How to Play – Trash Traders

Do you have four iPads and a wireless network? If so you can operate Trash Traders! Trash Traders is an experience developed at Carnegie Mellons Entertainment Technology Center, that has shown to be fun and promote discussions about living a more green life. The following is footage collected from playtests of Trash Traders.

The following is additional footage of discussions about living a green life:


In Trash Traders players take the roles of four recycling centers, where each iPad is a recycling center, whose objective is to clean up the pollution in their city. They do this by fulfilling the needs of the city by creating green products using eco-items that are produced at the recycling centers. The recycling centers face a challenge though.

Each recycling can produce only one type of eco-item and more than one type of eco-item is often required to create a green product. Therefore the recycling centers must work together otherwise their city is doomed to be ruined by over pollution!


To run Trash Traders certain materials and steps are necessary.

Recommended Steps

It is highly recommended you be familiar with the experience and supplementary materials beforehand. Therefore please:

  • Play the in-game tutorial and be familiar with the actions within the game.
  • Watch the tutorial video.
  • Familiarize yourself with the trash items within the experience by reviewing the trash sheets.
  • Read the teacher pamphlet.


Considering the recommended steps the following are the necessary materials.

MUST Haves

You MUST have the following:


The following materials are not mandatory but recommended to augment the experience:

Tutorial Video


Given that players struggle with learning the actions of the game it is important for you to be familiar with these actions. Actions in the game are in five categories:

  1. Connect
  2. Store
  3. Send
  4. Recycle
  5. Hand in

This action involves starting the game. This requires:

  • One iPad to host the game.
  • The other three iPads be clients.

The host iPad will display a group name, this name needs to be entered into each of the clients. If correctly done correctly the three clients will display the message Connect Success and the experience will begin.


This action involves taking trash and storing them in unoccupied storage spaces. The below GIF is an example of the Paper Player storing a Paper Trash Item into one of the six unoccupied Storage Spaces.


This action involves taking a trash item and using the city popup menu to send it to other players. The following GIF is an example of the Paper Player sending a Metal Trash Item to the Metal Player.


This action involves taking two items of the correct category of trash and placing them in the input slots. The following GIF is an example of the Paper Player placing two Paper Trash Items into their Input Recycling Spaces and creating a Paper Eco-Item.

Hand in

The action of handing in involves taking an Eco-Item and dropping it onto a create green product recipe card that needs that Eco-Item. The following GIF is an example of the Paper Player handing in a Paper Eco-Item into a Recipe Card that needs one Paper Eco-Item. The recipe is then completed which reduces pollution.


To prepare for gameplay do the following:

  1. Prepare four iPads.
    • Install Trash Traders on each iPad.
    • Connect all the iPads to the same wireless network.
  2. Print the trash sheets.
  3. Print the teacher pamphlet.
  4. Have the tutorial video ready to watch.

Before playing the experience these are the recommended steps to take with players:

  1. Introduce the game.
  2. Then have players watch the tutorial video.
  3. Next have players play the in-game tutorial.
    • During the tutorial emphasize the need to communicate.
  4. Once the tutorial is complete emphasize three points.
    • In the tutorial players are the paper recycling center. Though when playing the game they may have a different role which will affect what players can recycle.
    • When the experience begins each recycling center will be given a unique trash sheet which displays what trash they can recycle.
    • The first game is a practice round where players should focus on learning the actions within the game.
  5. With the tutorial complete assist players in connecting the iPads together.

During Gameplay

Normally players often struggle with the first round. Treat this as a practice round. The following is a table of likely troubles with solutions.

Trouble Solution
Recycling Center Identification The icon indicating the recycling town is in the bottom left corner of the screen.
Recycle Action Refer to Recycle in the actions section of this page.
Send Action Refer to Send in the actions section of this page.
Multiplayer Unawareness Mention and remind that the game is multiplayer and each recycling center (except for compost) is another iPad.
Lack of Communication This will likely result in players losing the experience. When this happens it is good to emphasize communication is necessary to win.


Once the experience is complete, players will hopefully request to play again. This is under your digression. To play again has value as recycling center types are randomly assigned, and so players will get exposed to different trash.

When appropriate it is valuable to engage in a post gameplay discussion. To aid in this discussion we have prepared a pamphlet which can be found here. Good points for discussion include:

  • Art background and how it changed.
  • Trash players received, and how it relates to their daily lives.

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