In recent years, gamification has become a useful medium to reach out to users and people across the world on different themes and topics. Now, climate change is the next big frontier. Game developers and other platforms in the multi-billion dollar gaming industry are creating digital games and video games that not only aim to teach people about climate change but also warn what could happen if the situation is left unchecked.
There are some other interesting notable mentions. For example, The New York Times has an interesting interactive mini-quiz – primarily aimed at students – on making good climate choices. NYT also has another quiz that looks at how our diets contribute to climate change.
Recently, the UK government, in collaboration with the Minecraft Education Edition, released a new map in the game called ‘RiverCraft’, where students can explore and understand the key areas of the UK Environment Agency’s work through three games themed around flood mitigation, climate change, and the local environment. Here’s a look at four other games that are themed around climate change and its effect on the planet.
Terra Nil: In this upcoming sci-fi game, players must turn a barren wasteland into an ecological paradise – complete with different flora and fauna – then clean up, leaving the environment pristine. Created by the independent South African game designer Free Lives and published by Devolver Digital, Terra Nil is a reverse city builder about ecosystem reconstruction, which presents players with the task of environmental rejuvenation.
According to the Devolver Digital website, players must start with the basics when they attempt to fix a wasteland in Terra Nil: begin with the water system, slowly purify the soil, and cultivate greenery. Then they must restore biodiversity, fix the climate and introduce wildlife, among other things.
The strategy game, which is due to be released later this year, has multiple regions and landscapes (which includes hand-painted environments), combined with a meditative soundtrack and audio palette. You can try a demo of the game now on the Steam platform.
The Climate Game from Financial Times: In the Financial Times’ Climate Game, you are appointed as “the global minister for future generations” and need to keep global warming to 1.5C by cutting energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050. You must also deal with other greenhouse gases, and protect people and nature, for the planet to remain habitable. This game is based on published scientific research and is accessible to everyone, even non-subscribers.
For each question that is posed to you in the game, the player needs to decide the best course of action to reach net zero by 2050. As well as cutting emissions, these questions will highlight how factors like cooperation, innovation, financial system reform and human equality are core levers of emissions reduction.
According to a press release from Financial Times, the game focuses on electricity, transport, buildings and industry - the four sectors responsible for the biggest energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Players must also deal with other greenhouse gases, and protect people and nature, for the planet to remain habitable. When each player reaches the year 2050 they will receive a bespoke temperature projection for the year 2100 - an accurate reflection of the decisions they have made. For more details: https://ig.ft.com/climate-game/
Forever Skies: This upcoming first-person action game involves the player – in the role of a lone scientist – returning to Earth which has been destroyed by an ecological disaster. You must fly a high-tech airship, expand, rebuild and repair it.
According to an article on Gamerant.com, players will need to discover what caused the disaster and find a cure to a mysterious illness threatening their family: “Along the way, players will search for and analyze items, reverse engineer ancient technology, and hunt for viral pathogens to use as weapons or boost vitals. They will also need to find food and create tools to increase their odds of survival. Eventually, players will descend to the surface to discover a totally new and dangerous ecosystem has evolved without humanity around.”
The game’s developer – Far From Home – released a trailer to the game earlier this year. Forever Skies is scheduled to be released later this year for PC and next-gen gaming consoles.
Norco: This visually stunning game is a point & click narrative adventure that immerses the player in the sinking suburbs and verdant industrial swamps of a distorted South Louisiana, in the US.
According to the game’s description on the Steam website, your brother Blake has gone missing in the aftermath of your mother's death. In the hopes of finding him, you must follow a fugitive security android through the refineries, strip malls, and drainage ditches of suburban New Orleans. In a recent article on SIERRA magazine, writer Philip Kiefer describes Norco as a “game about climate change and the oil, gas, and chemical industries,” but “also about much older forces—apocalyptic religion, centuries of exploitation and displacement—that shape Louisiana.”
PC Gamer has rated Norco 94/100 and describes it as a must-play for anyone interested in narrative-driven games. Norco is available for Windows and MacOS on Steam.