That understanding can then be used to provoke, imagine and de-risk interventions that shift the dynamics within these food environments - to ensure healthy and appealing food options are accessible and affordable for everyone, wherever they live.
Right now, the floodgates of unhealthy food are open wide, and these options are overwhelming families.
Because healthy food can be more expensive, more difficult and costly to access and take longer to prepare than less healthy products, it is much harder than it should be for families to eat healthily.
But we can improve people’s health in the UK by working to improve the flow of affordable, healthy food options.
We need to find innovative and experimental approaches to show that what surrounds us shapes our opportunity to be healthy, and increase public support for effective policy changes to turn the tide on unhealthy food.
We want healthy and appealing food options to be accessible and affordable for everyone, wherever they live, work or play.
The concept of the ‘sandbox’ as a place to experiment and test new ideas is well known. Children play with ideas and build imaginary worlds within the confines of a sandbox. Innovation sandboxes provide a collaborative space to invent and build the future.
Synthetic sandbox environments – powered by 3D game engines – are increasingly utilised to create simulations of unparalleled scale, complexity and fidelity. These game environments enable us to understand and map complex challenges, formulate responses, rapidly test interventions and understand their systems-level consequences in a virtual world before implementing them in the real one.
Synthetic sandboxes are currently being used for everything from optimising car factories to ensuring better passenger flow at airports to mitigating threats to national security. They help safely innovate and de-risk decision and policy making by limiting unintended consequences in the real world. As a result, the potential of synthetic sandboxes to help us improve lives, drive positive social change and build a better future is enormous.
For the Virtual Healthy Neighbourhoods Challenge , Nesta and InGAME invite Scottish gamemakers and developers to harness and validate the potential of synthetic sandboxes to build a better, more healthy future focusing on Dundee - the home of Scotland’s pioneering, vibrant and thriving videogames cluster.
Like so many other cities, towns and neighbourhoods, some of the food environments within Dundee can make it difficult and costly for families to access shops selling healthier food. Issues such a high density of fast-food outlets, small and expensive convenience stores and advertising and product placement converge to create a tidal wave of unhealthy food.
Find out about eligibility criteria and how to submit an expression of interest on the InGAME website.