Playing for change: games can help us save the planet

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Via Sustainability Times

Changing our behaviors can be hard. Biking to work rather than drive there can be too tough a challenge. So can avoiding the use of disposables. Yet might there be a different way forward?

An increasing number of examples show that change can be much easier than we may think. The key to it is gamification. For some time gamification has been proving highly useful in fields like medicine and education. Now it is also reshaping the ways we strive to save the planet.

For instance, cleverly designed games can transport people back into the distant past and teach them to appreciate the evolution of life. Meanwhile, games of forecasting can let us experience the consequences of our actions or inaction in the future. Games can entertain us or frighten us, but they can also inspire us and help us invent novel solutions to complex dilemmas.

The simplest way to gamify sustainability is to green what’s already viral. Imagine Spider-Man or Assassin’s Creed players trying to save a city from a flood or the world of Civilization facing biodiversity loss and resource depletion. Actually, some massively popular games are already treading such paths. Monitoring ecosystem health is already a part of SimCity and Minecraft has a special mode featuring climate change, carbon taxes, and emissions offsets through planting trees.

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