Ruination: City of Dust Turns the Future into a Game to Be Solved


Who says games are just for kids? This weekend, Northern teams up with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for an interactive game that takes place all around Lake Nokomis and the creek. Ruination: City of Dust mixes science-fiction with real science in a game of physical and mental challenges.

According to Sarah Peters, director of public engagement for Northern, the project comes out of the organization's interest in using gaming as a platform for civic engagement. For this event, they teamed up with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD) and game designer Ken Eklund to create a fun challenge that brings awareness about water issues and offers an interactive experience.  

The two-year project began with testing and research, as team members sought public input on how people saw the creek, and what they cared about in terms of the area. They've been doing pilot runs of the game since March, where they've worked out activities with different groups of people. 

Eklund, the game's designer, has experience doing environmental projects. For example, he created a computer game, called World Without Oil, which was intended to engage people in post-oil scenarios. 

Ruination: City of Dust takes place in the future, when Minneapolis has been abandoned. There's no water left, and all that can be seen is dust everywhere. Players enter the city and follow a number of archaeologists to figure out which deadly problem led to the destruction of the city.  

The game is played on bicycles. The team felt that in order to cover as much landscape as possible, bikes could transport faster. Teams take on different challenges, such as voyaging via canoe, and learn clues at each of the digs. In the end, they receive the location to the secret ending. If they guess right, they are allowed entry into "a magical rewarding place," Peters says. 

There's space for about 500 players to participate in the game over the course of two days. People are encouraged to sign up with a team of their friends, with at least one person who has a cell phone (it doesn't need to be a smart phone). The game itself takes anywhere from two to four hours to complete. 


Ruination: City of Dust

Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning at 15-minute intervals.

Register here to participate.

The game is appropriate for ages 10 to adult.