Climate change heats up the gaming market
The Future. Innovative video games are helping players understand the complexities of climate change, from experiencing life through a tree’s perspective to making policy decisions in an alternate universe. Government organizations and academics are increasingly leveraging video games to change hearts and minds. Looking ahead, new public-partnerships that gamify the realities of climate change may become crucial to changing real-world habits.
Extreme weather is quickly becoming video games’ biggest baddie.
- Survive the Century lets players decide what policy decisions should be made to avoid climate catastrophe and survive into the next decade.
- The game was created by scientists, economists, and writers.
- Using VR, Tree turns users into a rainforest tree to let them experience what a tree does when it encounters things like birds or forest fires.
- Inspired by the BBC documentary series, Blue Planet II, Beyond Blue allows users to explore the ocean to gain a deeper understanding of the ecosystem.
- The United Nations released a mobile game called Reset Earth, which follows three teenagers trying to save the world when it loses its ozone layer.
The UN also launched the Playing for the Planet Alliance, which recruited companies like Ubisoft and Sony Interactive Entertainment to touch upon climate themes in their games and reduce their carbon footprints.
According to Joey J. Lee, a lecturer of tech and design at Columbia University, video games spur empathy and pave the way to taking concrete steps towards accomplishing a goal (like saving the planet).
According to Lee, “variables can be reduced to allow players to focus on specific aspects of a problem and to see the consequences and what happens as they interact with that system. Abstract concepts can be made much more tangible, [for example] the ability to see invisible aspects of nature, to visualize how sea level rise affects coastlines over time via time travel mechanics, [and] to manipulate magnetic fields with your hands in VR.”