On Friday, Trends Research and Innovation Company psfk, in partnership with The Climate Reality Project, announced the ten finalists of “Gaming for Good.” Contestants were invited to develop games which help people improve their environmental impact, taking inspiration from psfk’s recent report, The Future of Gaming.
The goal of The Climate Reality Project is global acceptance of the realities of climate change. Selection criteria for the top 10 games focused on how effectively they facilitated personal involvement in mitigating climate change. Essentially, taking the focus off the North Pole and the upper atmosphere and delving into people’s local environments.
Opening remarks from psfk stated that we’re being lied to by climate change deniers who fear change despite proof it won’t hurt their profits. The Climate Reality Project seeks to destroy that doubt by engaging and building awareness through games.
psfk called on game developers with the following objectives:
- Build awareness
- Promote fundraising
- Solve the unsolvable
- Embed knowledge
- Teach people new skills
- Improve everyday personal behavior
- Leverage collective manpower
The full report, The Future of Gaming, is available through psfk. My personal favorite was RealiTree, which proposes a billboard-sized virtual tree whose health is controlled by the activities of people involved in the game. The rest of the games I’d put into three main categories:
Maximizing Carrotmob’s Influence:
- Climate heroes enables players to report environmental abuse and collaborate on a potential action.
- Greensquare… instead of foursquare. Investigate & rank the business’s green status each time you check in.
- Sprout helps consumers find the best of each product they’re shopping for, like Good Guide only it uses an automated feed of what you’re buying — making it as effortless as Mint.com.
- Mission Green invites players to become special agents and find proof of climate crimes committed by corporations. When a corporation reaches a Yellow threat level, they get a warning letter from Mission Green.
Spreading Truth All Over:
- Climate Reality Patrol measures the accuracy of information in forums, not just published content.
- Climate Trail shows the money trail from points of disinformation.
- Reality Drops makes it easier to win arguments in forums, on Facebook, etc. The site aggregates climate news and ranks it in terms of popularity of the topic. It’s all organized by taxonomy, making it easier to access information.
Making Games Realistic:
Destination Reality: FarmVille and Virtual Climate Reality are designed to be embedded within popular games to create virtual climate events, forcing players to consider the effects of climate change in their decisions.
Al Gore Gives a State of the Environment Address
Each finalist pitched their game for two minutes, then we were joined by Al Gore, who spoke briefly on his top 5, listed here. Then he gave a rousing, impassioned speech which impressed me because he listed powerful examples of climate change from just the past year:
- Floods the likes of which were considered “once in 1,000 years” events:
- 20 million people driven from their homes in Pakistan
- Floods in his hometown Nashville, TN
- One third of Thailand is underwater, disrupting supply chains of more than a dozen global companies
- Hurricane Irene estimated to cause $12 billion in damage
Gore stated this is an unprecedented global challenge, that governments must act with urgency. He pointed out that the day he spoke was the opening of COP17 in Durban. “The Unites States is more an obstacle to progress at COP17 than an aid. The policies we need to prevent climate change are being blocked. So companies need to be influenced by consumers. We need a bottom-up approach to policy change.”
Gore then went on to discuss how exorbitant campaign costs are the direct cause of the lack of good policy around climate change. He closed with: “Too much power in too few hands will always lead to bad results. Our democracy has been hacked! It no longer functions with integrity. Campaign finance prevents policy that serves the people.” Gore also congratulated psfk for its work with UNICEF on the Future of Health.
All Photos Courtesy of Louis Caldarola
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