Global warming game

Global warming game
An in-game screenshot from Fate of the World, a global warming game

A global warming game, also known as a climate game or a climate change game, is a type of serious game. As a serious game, it attempts to simulate and explore real life issues to educate players through an interactive experience. The issues particular to a global warming video game are usually energy efficiency and the implementation of green technology as ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus counteract global warming. Global warming games also include more traditional board games, video games, as well as other varieties.



The primary objectives of global warming games are twofold:

  1. To develop the player's familiarity and knowledge of the issue of global warming and related issues
  2. To make the player aware of the challenges and obstacles that are faced when addressing global warming
  3. Occasionally, the games encourage players to develop ideas and solutions to global warming

The first objective is universal to global warming games. The issues surrounding global warming commonly included are CO2 emissions and the emission of other greenhouse gases, the melting of the polar ice caps, sea-level rise, natural disasters and massive changes to lifestyles caused by global warming. Games that do not go beyond the objective of knowledge and familiarity tend to be designed for younger audiences. Games designed for young children often only have the goal to engage the children enough to excite their attention to focus on these basic concepts.

The second objective is integrated into games in a variety of ways. Sometimes demonstrating the challenges of confronting global warming are put directly into the style of gameplay, e.g. to demonstrate the difficulty of international cooperation, players are made to represent different countries and are required to negotiate to fulfill game objectives. Other times, the game includes the challenges as a part of the mechanics, e.g. building 'green factories' is more expensive than building 'black factories.'

The final objective is shared by the most interactive and engaging global warming games. Developing solutions to global warming includes two major types of response: mitigation of emissions and global warming's effects, and adaptation to live sustainably in a new climate. Typically players are given a variety of different options so that they may come up with a number of different creative solutions. Sometimes players are even allowed freedom to create their own unique options to integrate into their strategy.

Notable examples

Dynamic Climate Change Simulator

The Dynamic Climate Change Simulator (DCCS)[1] provides a simplified model of climate change to be used as a tool for the study of dynamic decision making, and to give participants a basic understanding of the tradeoffs involved in responses to climate change. The participant's goal in DCCS is to maintain the carbon dioxide concentration stock within an acceptable range around the goal value of 938 GtC. The participant decides on emissions of two different types: deforestation and burning of fossil fuels. The participant sets the fossil fuel and deforestation emissions. The DCCS moves autonomously by a number of time steps to a future year and calculates carbon dioxide concentrations and absorptions from making the emissions. The software is available to download for free to academics, subject to the attached license agreement.


LogiCity[[2] is an interactive Flash-based virtual-reality based computer game, produced by Logicom and The National Energy Foundation, an English charity. The game is set in a 3D virtual city with five main activities where players are set the task of reducing the carbon footprint of an average resident. The activities comprise:
- a race against time around a virtual reality office switching off equipment left on by careless users;
- finding and selecting energy efficiency and renewable energy options in a home, but with a strictly limited budget;
- answering a quiz about features they have to find in a low energy building;
- taking part in a role playing game to select the best travel options for three generations of a family; and
- choosing a holiday from a virtual travel agents - but with the risk that climate change may have led to unexpected changes at the destination.

As players work their way through the game they attempt to cut their carbon footprint from a typical English figure of 5.5 tonnes to a level of 2.0 tonnes. At the end of the game they are taken forward to 2066 to see if they have done enough to save England from the worst problems associated with global climate change.[3] The game's conclusion and focus on 2066 is designed to bring home to players the reality of the changes they may face in their lifetime.[4]

The game is part of Defra’s (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Climate Challenge programme[5] to increase public awareness of Climate Change across the country. The National Energy Foundation, Logicom and British Gas also provided support to the game's development. LogiCity is designed to be used both by individuals and in an educational context. It is stated to be suitable for most children from the ages of 10 or 11 upward (English KS3+), although the main target group is young adults aged 16–26.[6]

The game can either be played online or distributed across a network from a CD-ROM. There are no licensing implications as it has been publicly funded, although all PCs being used for the game do need to meet certain technical requirements (notably being PCs not Macs, and using Internet Explorer as a browser), and may require additional software plug-ins to be downloaded (a VRML viewer and a recent version of Flash player).

There has been some criticism that the game is only really applicable to England, due to limitations imposed by its funders, so that it is unlikely to appeal widely in North America. The look and feel of the game concentrates on a near photo-realism for buildings, but the player is disembodied and lacks an avatar. Firefox users are unable to run the game unless they switch to Internet Explorer, and some users have commented that download times for each module can be up to a minute, although this may be overcome by using the CD-ROM implementation. Logicity is on the cover disk of the February edition of PC Gamer magazine.

Stabilization Wedge Game

The Stabilization Wedge Game, or what is commonly referred to as simply the 'Wedge Game', is a serious game produced by Princeton University's Carbon Mitigation Initiative. The goal of the game creators, Stephen Pacala and Robert H. Socolow, is to demonstrate through this game that global warming is a problem which can be solved by implementing today's technologies to reduce CO2 emissions.[7] The object of the game is to keep the next fifty years of CO2 emissions flat, using seven wedges from a variety of different strategies which fit into the stabilization triangle.

Climate Challenge

Climate Challenge is a Flash-based simulation game produced by the BBC and developed by Red Redemption Ltd. Players manage the economy and resources of the 'European Nations' as its president, while reducing emissions of CO2 to combat climate change and managing crises. Climate Challenge is an environmental serious game, designed to give players an understanding of the science behind climate change, as well as the options available to policy makers and the difficulties in their implementation.[8]

The Climate Change Game

The Climate Change Game is played by one or two people (sharing the Mouse). Each player is the leader of his/her country, hoping to be re-elected while trying to cope with the effects of climate change and, hopefully, reverse it. You'll make Decisions to change the energies you use or use them in a different way, researching topic in the Glossary. You'll also answer Questions on Climate Change and respond to Natural Events (such as volcanic eruptions) which affect Climate, People's Choices (unpredictable, popular human actions which impact Greenhouse Gas emissions and tax revenues), and economic or political decisions by other countries that affect the level of greenhouse gas emissions. You win “The Climate Change Game” – and your delighted citizens re-elect you - if you can help reduce global Greenhouse Gas emissions to the level required by the Kyoto Protocol AND are not spending more money than people pay in taxes, AND maintain Voter Support of at least 51 percent AND Earth’s Temperature is “comfortable" for life.[9]


V GAS is a 3D serious game in which players explore and live in a house that is built to mirror their own. Players begin the game by building a profile including variables such as water use and transportation behaviors, heating and cooling practices, food purchases, and electrical appliance usage. Once the profile has been built, the player can begin the simulation which introduces different scenarios ranging from heat waves to mad cow disease. The player adjusts their lifestyle according to how they would react to these events in real life. All the while, the players' decisions are being measured and recorded, and their overall contribution to N2O, CO2, and CH4 to the atmosphere is measured.

Keep Cool

Keep Cool is a board game created by Klaus Eisenack and Gerhard Petschel-Held of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and published by the German company Spieltrieb in November 2004. The game can be classified as both a serious game and a global warming game. In Keep Cool, up to six players representing the world's countries compete to balance their own economic interests and the world's climate in a game of negotiation. The goal of the game as stated by the authors is to "promote the general knowledge on climate change and the understanding of difficulties and obstacles, and "to make it available for a board game and still retain the major elements and processes."[10]

Winds of Change

The European Climate Forum and Munich Re have launched a climate game called Winds of Change, which is a board game for 2-4 persons. The game illustrates the climate challenge in a playful way and it can be used in team learning, schools, focus groups, etc. It includes several features, which are hotly debated in climate policy-making. These include among others: investments in R&D, technological learning and innovation, de-carbonizing the economy, ocean uptake of CO2, the 2 degrees limit, and insurance against extreme weather events.


Berlin-based Andrea Meyer, game designer with an environmental background published this card game in her company BeWitched-Spiele in 2009. Playing the card game for 2-4 persons ages 12 and up takes 30–40 minutes. The game has players collect groups of like-minded countries in order to hold conferences. The bigger the conference the better. Country cards show indicators on CO2-emissions per capita as well as figures on consequences of extreme weather events (deaths and damages). While no knowledge is needed to play the game, players will learn a bit about who is causing climate change and who is suffering from it. On the game side, Climate-Poker requires bluffing and closely watching what the other players are aiming at. the 2 degrees limit, and insurance against. The figures in the game stem from the World Resources Institutes' Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) and from Munich Re.

CEO2 - Climate Business Game

The online climate game CEO2 from World Wide Fund for Nature and Allianz is a rather complex simulation that allows one player to run a company over a period of 20 years. Players can chose from four industries (automobile, chemicals, insurance, utility). They have a limited budget and can chose from a variety of business decision like investing in smart grids or carbon capture and storage (utility). Their target is to reduce CO2 emissions significantly until 2030 without going bankrupt. Advisors (environmentalist, investors, researcher) offer help but their suggestions can be one-sided. The game is based on the RECIPE[11] study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

Fate of the World

Fate of the World is a 2011 Microsoft Windows and Mac OS game developed and published by Red Redemption, the developers of Climate Challenge. It focuses on global governance, with goals ranging from improving living conditions in Africa, to preventing catastrophic climate change, to exacerbating it. It is based around an intricate model of populations, economic production and greenhouse emissions based on real-world data.[12][13]


Plantville [2] is "an innovative, educational and fun way for Siemens to engage customers, employees, prospects, students and the general public while driving awareness of Siemens technologies and brand." The game enables players to improve the health of their plants by learning about and applying industrial and infrastructure products and solutions from Siemens. Gamers will be measured on a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including safety, on time delivery, quality, energy management and employee satisfaction.[14]

Xbox 360 Games for Change Challenge

The Xbox 360 Games for Change Challenge is a collaborative effort between Microsoft and Games for Change (G4C), a subgroup of the Serious Games Initiative. The challenge is a worldwide competition to develop a global warming game with Microsoft's XNA Game Studio Express software. Winners will be awarded scholarships from Games for Change and Microsoft, and the winning games will have the possibility of being available for download on the Xbox LIVE Arcade service. The Xbox 360 Games for Change Challenge has been cast by Microsoft as a "socially-minded" initiative, joining the larger serious games movement.[15] Suzanne Seggerman, a co-founder of Games for Change, shared these comments in a radio interview:

Think about how this next generation of kids could be inspired to be environmentalists and humanitarians. You know I'd like to see also, a thousand little game seeds planted. Not all the games are going to get prizes and not even that many are going to get recognized. But think of this new generation of game-makers and game innovators we're reaching. All these kids who've perhaps never even considered the impact of the environment are going to be getting knee deep in environmental issues. That's really exciting. You know kids really respond to this medium of video games in a way they don't to a newspaper or a heavy documentary. And I think that's the key. It's that we're reaching them on their own turf.[16]


  1. ^ Dutt, V., & Gonzalez, C. (2008). Human perceptions of climate change. In B. Dangerfield (Ed.), Proceedings of the 26th International Conference of the System Dynamics Society (pp. 47). Athens, Greece: System Dynamics Society. [1]
  2. ^ LogiCity
  3. ^ See interview with Dr Majid Al-Kader, New Scientist video on YouTube"Climate Change in a Virtual World". New Scientist. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  4. ^ "LogiCity: Will You Survive?". National Energy Foundation. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  5. ^ "Climate Challenge Project". DEFRA. Retrieved 2008-01-22. 
  6. ^ Simonite, Tom (2007-11-15). "Climate change in a virtual world". New Scientist. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  7. ^ Pacala and Socolow, Stephen and Robert (2004-08-13). "Stabilization Wedges: Solving the Climate Problem for the Next 50 Years with Current Technologies". Science. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  8. ^ "Climate Challenge". BBC. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  9. ^ "The Climate Change Game". Environmental Education Games. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  10. ^ Eisenack, Klaus; Petschel-Held, Gerhard. "The Authors: Science and Games". Retrieved 2007-07-25. 
  11. ^ Ottmar Edenhofer, Carlo Carraro, Jean-Charles Hourcade, Karsten Neuhoff. "RECIPE - The Economics of Decarbonization". Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Retrieved 2010-06-17. 
  12. ^ Red Redemption (28 February 2011). "Fate of the World: Real Science. Real Consequences". Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Jack Arnott (31 October 2010). "Fate of the World - review". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2011. 
  14. ^ Siemens (24 March 2011). "Siemens Launches Plantville — An Innovative Gaming Platform to Showcase Products and Solutions for Industry and Infrastructure". Siemens. Retrieved 24 March 2011. 
  15. ^ "Xbox 360 Games for Change Challenge". Microsoft. 2007-06-11. Archived from the original on 2007-07-17. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  16. ^ Gellerman, Bruce (2007-06-22). "Global Warming Games". Living on Earth. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 

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