Poorly sorted household waste adds to landfill and wastes tax dollars. To help people get it right, ReCollect Systems and City of Surrey asked us to make an interactive game for their education toolkit. Who knew sorting garbage could be fun?

Where We Started

With ReCollect and a cross-section of staff from City of Surrey, we looked at similar games created by other municipalities around the world, noting what worked and what didn’t in art direction and educational gameplay.

Our audience inquiry focussed on youth, naturally, but also on newcomer and more playful adult learners. In that process, we found a hidden audience in city engineering staff themselves, who hoped to use game analytics to tune their educational material.

What We Did

If anything could use a fun hook, it’s learning how to sort trash. We created and built a two-stage game concept where players sort waste and use rewards to build a park. But not just any park: in addition to swingsets and trees there are UFOs, giant Cheshire cats, and dinosaurs. This main feedback loop was designed to be positive, fantastical, and tied to level progression to encourage game completion.

Gameplay is deliberately gentle, ignoring common mechanics like point systems and leaderboards. Wrong answers are not penalized; incorrect choices are instead progressively disabled, so at worst players can get by with trial and error. For players weaker on reading, we minimized text in the game and deliver instructions with small graphical cues.

Following integration with ReCollect’s system, the game went through two major quality tests with all audiences represented, and then readied for launch on Surrey’s website and integration into ReCollect’s general product.

The Results

The game can be played in any modern browser and is integrated with ReCollect’s branded, native iOS and Android apps. Kids, teachers, and parents have given high marks on educational and entertainment value, and ReCollect clients have a new teaching tool that will also help them learn which rules people struggle the most to remember. And of course, ReCollect has a fun new feature that continues to push their product offering beyond the competition.

Play the game right here! Mobile devices need to be turned sideways to activate the game.

Services Used



Project Snapshots

Early concept sketching

An early (and messy) exploration. A lot got left behind, but some things made it through.

We can do this for you

Learning and games make a great pair. Along with colourful images, animation, and sound, we used game mechanics and learning psychology to turn learning about garbage sorting into a good time.

If you’ve got an idea to make a small part of life more fun, we can help you make that happen.

Say hello@denimandsteel.com