What is it about? In short: It is a special form of valuetainment in the context of the climate crisis. Awareness of environmental sustainability is growing and with it the urge to engage the subject in the field of entertainment media.
Musical artists have started to take a greener approach to their live concerts and tours, eliminating plastic cups, for instance, and using dance floors to generate electricity. In the film business, real-time projections are used to reduce or eliminate the need for set construction or set relocations. Particularly the genre of critical documentaries has increasingly focused its attention on the climate crisis. Attendees of film festivals are encouraged to win “climate heroes” awards in playful ways by taking shorter showers, for instance.
Certain events are organised exclusively to advance the subject of sustainability, often inviting well-known climate activists for the occasion. Climate influencers plays a more and more important role at events, and not just there. They have gained increasing prominence on social media, at rallies and for movements such as #fridaysforfuture.
These examples alone illustrate that many things are moving in the right direction. The problem being: It has a paralysing effect on many people who feel overwhelmed by the need to jump into action (“Where do I start?”) or conversely the feeling that “so much is already being done.”
It is reasonable to conclude: Presenting facts in entertaining ways alone or the activism “of others” is not enough. People need intrinsic motivation to be moved into action. The authors of the trend survey describe this as follows: “Commitment to climate change mitigation will only gather sufficient momentum when you are having fun with it.”
How do you accomplish that?
A good way would be through #gamification. After all, “games will not only encourage environmental awareness but also motivate to take action.”
Below are some examples for ways to help climate change mitigation in playful ways even now:
- - Opower, an Oracle spin-off, gives you the option to compare your own energy consumption with that of your neighbours. Let’s see, who is more frugal?
- - plenergy is a simulation game in which students spend three days acting out local decision-making processes and developing ideas for the local energy transition within this framework. After the game, the ideas are discussed with local policymakers and may even be implemented in local initiatives.
- - The Changers Fit app rewards your with virtual climate coins for avoiding air and noise nuisances. The climate coins can be used to promote tree planting or social projects. Companies that use the app include Deutsche Bahn and Danone.
- - Mission 1.5 is a video game that rates solutions for the climate crisis and forwards them to governments to help them improve national efforts to protect the climate.
- - “The Climate Game” offered online by the Financial Times turns its players into global ministers, and is yet another way to collect ideas and to simulate their implementation in the collective effort to make the world carbon-neutral by 2050.
To sum up, games can be quite useful to make tough issues more accessible in an easygoing manner. What does that mean for us? Let’s play for a sustainable future! Or more flippantly put: Although things are bad, we’re still having fun.