Habitable: More Than Just A Game


October 26, 2023


Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies developed a board game that combines astronomy and the climate crisis. The international team was awarded a prize for the idea in a competition for the German Science Year “Our Universe” 7 months ago. Now the online version of the game is available worldwide and free of charge. The prototype of the board game will be completed soon. 

 “Just one year after the initial idea, we are happy and relieved to have reached the home stretch,” says astrophysicist Eva Laplace, on whose idea the game is based. She is a postdoctoral researcher in the Stellar Evolution Theory research group (SET) and member of the Habitable team. Together with her colleagues Dandan Wei, Jan Henneco, Duresa Temaj, Vincent Bronner, Rajika Kuruwita, Simon Speith and Julian Saling, she developed “Habitable”, which explains the habitability of planets in an entertaining way and at the same time draws attention to the critical state of the Earth. In the process, the researchers benefited from their passion for board games. “A lot of heart and soul goes into it,” says Vincent Bronner, a PhD student in the research group. “Without the personal commitment of all team members, such a complex game would never have come about.”

“Our goal is that families and friends can enjoy a fun game that inspires its players to think about climate change, the habitability of our planet and humankind’s impact on it”, says team member Dandan Wei, a postdoctoral researcher in the SET group.

“To date, more than 5,000 planets have already been discovered orbiting other stars in the universe, so-called exoplanets.” So far, so exciting. “But only some of them are in a specific region called the habitable zone”, says HITS Independent Postdoc Rajika Kuruwita

The target groups for Habitable, in which players can explore exoplanets and create a habitable planet, are families, game fans, astronomy enthusiasts and educators, who have been able to test the game extensively during various events organized by the team and have repeatedly provided valuable suggestions for improvement through their feedback.

The online version is now available worldwide at this link and can be played free of charge for one year:  https://tabletopia.com/games/habitable

Playing the game, people can interact and give feedback on the Discord platform.The group also produced a game rules booklet in English and German that explains the rules of “Habitable”, and an explanatory video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/LytHF-71OTE