Imagine being able to reach a large audience and bridge an important message through entertainment. Well, the UN has already set about doing just that, educating the public on climate change using the power of games.
But the power of Mission 1.5 doesn’t solely rely on its entertainment value and ability to raise awareness. Players also get to voice “the change they want to see” in their governments’ environmental policies by casting votes in-game. These votes will then be raised to government leaders and policymakers, an article in the United Nations Regional Information Centre’s (UNRIC) official website says.
How does the game do that? Let’s have a brief walkthrough of what happens in Mission 1.5.
How Does Mission 1.5 Work & How Has This Game Contributed to Fighting Climate Change So Far?
In Mission 1.5, your main objective is to make decisions.
In each given scenario, you have three options that earn you a certain number of points when you choose them. For example, the game asks what decision you’ll make given that more than 20% of power comes from renewable resources. Will you generate electricity with water, use solar and wind energy, or put up more coal plants?
At the end of each round is a survey related to the game. These are the answers the UN Development Programme (UNDP) records anonymously and brings to policymakers’ and governments’ attention.
But many might be wondering if the UNDP’s efforts effected any of the changes it envisioned since the game’s implementation.
According to Cassie Flynn, the strategic advisor on climate change for the UNDP, about 6,000,000 players from 58 countries have already tried the game — and with a 50% completion rate, an article in the official UNDP website says.
“We took data from about 50 countries, and we were able to use the samples to cover over half of the world’s population in terms of their thinking on how they should solve the climate crisis,” Flynn said.
The article also notes the survey data is discussed during international meetings like the recent G20 summit and COP26, the latest climate conference organized by the UN.
Using video games as a way to address issues like climate change may not be a novel idea, but its greatest potential certainly hasn’t fully been explored. With this initiative, we can hope to see more efforts to educate the public through a means they’ll enjoy.
Read more about the UNDP’s green initiatives on their post.
Other Green Games & Apps that Help Counter Climate Change
The UN isn’t the only organization that developed a video game with climate change as its subject.
Beyond Blue by E-Line Media is a Unity-made adventure game where you observe marine life as an explorer. In its article on the educational game, Engadget says the main characters are “scientists who are trying to understand [human] impact” on oceans.
Another game similar to that of the UN is by Financial Times. Developed using published scientific data, Financial Times’ climate game also tasks players to make decisions impacting climate change. The objective is to make as many smart and green decisions with a limited number of points. The greener the decision, the greater the points you give up.
An article in the UN Environment Programme says one of the ways to fight the climate crisis is by spreading the word. If raising awareness is key to fighting climate change, doing so with video games sounds like a good start.
UNDP’s entertaining initiative is contributing to climate action by letting people vote on the changes they want to see — through games.
With Mission 1.5, UNDP encouraged millions of people to play their mobile browser game that sheds light on the effects of climate change. They also brought players’ answers to the attention of policymakers.
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