Ryerson University Students Advance to Global Stage for Environmental Justice Game

By: Yasmin Ranade

November 26, 2020

Two Ryerson University students, Ria Kapoor and Ryan Spooner, have won the Canadian leg of Red Bull Basement 2020, a global competition of ideas involving such relevant issues as smart cities, accessibility, climate action, justice, empowerment, or energy, for example.  Red Bull Basement was launched in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2015 to enable hackers, makers and coders to use their skills to solve social and environmental challenges in their cities.


Ria Kapoor

Ryan Spooner






Kapoor and Spooner have created a unique concept to gamify real world issues, tackling themes of water privatization, urbanization, environmental racism, and Indigenous water and land values in a game they have entitled, “To Play.” With increased interest in e-sports and online gaming, Kapoor and Spooner hope their concept will create learning for real work issues and be applied to any discipline. This is the second time Ryerson students have won this competition within Canada.

“’To Play’ is to take action,” stated Kapoor and Spooner. “By gamifying real world issues and involving people through play, we can impact audiences that wouldn’t previously care to think about these issues.” Kapoor also added, “It is using interactive storytelling as a platform for advocacy.”

Each year, the Red Bull Basement competition solicits student applications and crowd voting to determine country finalists who are then judged by a panel of innovative thinkers in order to be named the country winner. This year’s Canadian judges included YouTuber Sabrina Cruz, StartUpCanada, Major League Hacking, Rippin and The Video Games Professor.


Red Bull Basement 2020 garnered 3,865 applications, and 38 national finalists were announced this week. Each finalist / finalist team is now preparing for the Global Workshop, an immersive, three-day event running from December 10 – 13, 2020, which culminates in awarding the title, “Best Idea of 2020.” Finalists, including Kapoor and Spooner, will hear from global visionaries, network with industry professional, and refine their ideas right up to making their Final Pitch.

When asked about how it feels to represent Canada at this year’s virtual Global Workshop, Kapoor remarked, “I feel honoured. Knowing that other people believe in ‘TO Play’ as much as I do inspires me to continue creating with all my heart.”

Spooner responded, “I feel a strong mix of determination and anxiety. I want to do right by the people that have supported us up to this point, and the new weight of the country on our backs. I am ready to carry TO Play to the top for Toronto, and for Canada.”

Best of luck to these creative and inspirational thinkers.

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