Computer games tackle climate change

Monday 01st Nov 2010 by theWeather Club

Computer games do not have a good reputation. They are seen - by those who don’t play them – as the font of many of society’s ills. Critics say they foster a generation of house bound couch potatoes, sitting in darkened rooms getting increasingly unhealthy as a lack of exercise and sunlight combine to take their toll. They have also been blamed for introducing millions of youngsters to a world of street based extreme violence devoid of any personal or social consequences. The effects of which are still being fiercely debated.

Into this world has arrived the climate change challenge. Fate of the Word, a British made computer game gives players control of a future World Trade Organisation style environmental body. The object of the game is to save the world by cutting carbon emissions through enlightened trading policies. Failure leads to a planet of soaring temperatures wreaking havoc through floods, droughts and fires. This new strategy based game is already being hailed by gaming experts as a potential breakthrough for social change games, and welcomed by climate campaigners as a way of reaching new audiences. Because gamers spend many, many hours on games they are seen as way of getting large levels of quite spohisticated information over to this potential new audience.

Gobion Rowlands, chairman at Red Redemption and a board member of social gaming organisation ‘Games for Change’ said the game was inspired by a boozy night out with Dr Myles Allen, head of climate dynamics at Oxford University. "My wife was working on Allen's Climate prediction .net (a project to use the power of home PCs to process climate model data)” Mr. Rowlands told reporters. “He took me out for dinner, we got quite drunk. I bragged that we could make a computer game about anything. He challenged us to make one about climate change."

Fate of the World was the outcome. A project that may have found a way of turning a legion of couch potatoes into the eco-warriors of the future.