Fixing climate change with a video game
As the president of the Global Environmental Organization (GEO), a “U.N. with teeth,” you have 200 years of power (and amazing long-life?) to strategize your way out of the world’s problems — stemming from worsening climate change and rising world population.
First, you choose your mission, such as Oil Crisis, Water Crisis, or the “let ‘em fry”-scenario, Dr. Apocalypse. Then, you try to play your cards right to deal with the problems of, for example, overpopulation, drought, or peak oil, by pursuing nuclear energy or implementing a land-use and forestry program. Be careful: Civilization might not be down with some of the authoritarian policies at your disposal, like slipping birth control into the water supply (drink down the population!). If you screw things up too badly, you might end up with a world of warcraft on your hands and a noose around your neck at the end of the game.
Fate of the World isn’t based on any science fiction; real-life Oxford climate scientist Myles Allen provided the climate prediction models used to determine the planetary consequences of your gaming gambles. Meaning, ideally, that this virtual reality could help educate a generation to take action in literal reality. The science geeks at the journal Nature reviewed the game [PDF], noting what makes a computer-based game actually (gasp!) encourage real learning includes “rewards, options that allow the user to navigate obstacles in a personalized way, opportunities to try out hypotheses and to fail in a safe space, iterative advance based on prior decisions and consecutive challenges that unfold logically.” The author also pointed out how darn close this sounds to the scientific method.
Ways you (and the rest of the world) can lose this particular red-hot video game:
- Crashing economies
- Getting the GEO banned in eight or more world regions
- Causing the average global Human Development Index to drop below 0.6 (on a scale of 0 to 1)
- Allowing global warming to exceed 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F)
If you win, that is, you escape the several paths to planetary apocalypse, well, that’s the ultimate final fantasy, isn’t it?
Check out the game’s trailer:
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