Games for Our Future: Surviving Climate Change
Video games are now one of the most popular genres in the history of humanity. How could they help change the world for the better?
During the spring of 2018 we partnered with EarthGames, Seattle Indies, the Pacific Science Center, and the Seattle Serious and Social Impact Games Meetup Group in a series of events exploring how games can make environmental learning fun and catalyze action. We focused on the theme, Surviving Climate Change: how might games–and players–respond to the new reality of rising temperatures–and all of its social, biological, and geophysical consequences? We invited environmental researchers, educators, game creators, and other change-makers to join lectures, a mixer, a 48-hour game jam, and our annual EarthGames on Tap which featured keynote speakers and a packed games showcase (see right). One of our Spring Interns, Tyler Ung, created a highlight reel to showcase the best of EarthGames 2018. Check out his video below to learn more about this year’s event!
Read more about all events and find links to lectures and games, below.
A huge shout-out to the Pacific Science Center for hosting all events.
Check out Grist’s video: Could A Video Help Us Solve Climate Change?
A huge thank you to all the judges, research mentors, participants, and donors who made EarthGames 2018 possible.
Want to contribute to the EarthGames effort? Donate here and say your gift should go toward “EarthGames events” in the comment box. Thank you!
Science in the City lectures: 3/20/2018 & 3/27/2018
The Pacific Science Center kicked things off with two Science in the City lectures to help researchers and game developers prepare for a climate change game jam by learning about each other’s fields. In the first lecture, Dr. Sarah Myhre presented “How to call BS on bad climate science communication,” equipping listeners with tools to confront climate science denialism. In the second lecture, a panel of game designers from Bungie (a game company) discussed how scientific processes are used to develop visually-complex, user-friendly games.
EarthGames Mixer: 4/6/2018
A week before the game jam we organized a mixer for game designers and research mentors to meet and brainstorm together. We invited in the experts for a series of lightning talks on climate change–mini-lectures to provide a baseline of common understanding and inspire game ideas. Topics ranged from the science of climate change, to the stories we tell ourselves about climate change, to the effects of climate change on food security, to how games could help us communicate the science, imagine new stories–and survive. The climate change lectures were followed by a crash course in how to also survive a game jam!
Game Jam: 4/14/2018 – 4/15/2018
The game jam challenged participants to create a game about Surviving Climate Change in less than 48 hours. Dargan Frierson the professor of UW Atmospheric Sciences who leads UW EarthGames, kicked off the jam with an enthusiastic speech and song before sending participants on their way. The jammers, together with the help of games professionals and researchers on hand as mentors, labored away all weekend, with some opting to spend the night in the center. Read more about the judges and meet the mentors.
By Sunday, nine games were in their final stages and participants were gearing up to face the judges. Over the course of the weekend, professionals from vastly different disciplines left their comfort zones to test the power of collaborative creativity and walked away with a new take on how we can communicate global crises. The final games are available to play here!
Earth Games On Tap: 4/19/2018
A week after the game jam, we invited a broader community of game developers, researchers, educators, and others to witness the possibilities of “earth” games and inspire the next set of games. The evening began with keynote talks by Tracy Fullerton, award-winning game designer, professor, and Director of the USC Games Program; and Eric Holthaus, internationally-recognized science journalist.
Jammers showcased their new games alongside several indie game entries and games created by students in the UW Earthgames Studio class. Attendees tried their hand at the suite of games and voted on their favorites. EarthGames on Tap was a grand finale to our whirlwind–and by all accounts successful–experiment into the power and possibilities of research-based environmental games. We have some lessons learned that we’ll apply next year!
Sela Davis is a senior software engineer at Vreal. Previously at WG Cells (Wargaming) and Xbox, she is best known for her work on achievements for the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One. Sela is an advocate for women in games, and currently sits on the board of IGDA Seattle. On the side, she is a shown metal artist, a keytarist, and sometimes makes shiny things.
Christopher has worked all over the video game industry and its various sectors, including several years at Indie MEGABOOTH, growing the company from just two domestic events per year, to over six international showcases in USA, Europe, and Asia. He currently runs a co-working office for game developers in Seattle, Indies Workshop. In his spare time, Christopher has organized Dota 2 eSports tournament ‘The Rektreational’, and is an active member of Seattle Indies.
Stuart Moulder joined the game industry over twenty years ago with Sierra On-line. While at Sierra, Mr. Moulder delivered the first CD-ROM title Mixed-Up Mother Goose as well as working on the first dedicated online gaming network, The ImagiNation Network. Mr. Moulder left Sierra to join Microsoft in the mid-90’s where he signed and managed the Age of Empires and Halo franchises. Mr. Moulder was responsible for several strategic studio acquisitions as well, bringing Bungie, FASA and Ensemble Studios into the fold at Microsoft. Since leaving Microsoft, Mr. Moulder has focused on casual and family gaming including Scene It?, Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, and the Nancy Drew game series.
Is an independent game developer who has worked on games like Ever Jane, Gravity Ghost, and most recently her own project Blood Quantum and Scale with Cube Heart Games. Based out of Seattle, Renee is a tribal member of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians and an unapologetic advocate for education, video games as a tool for good, and the self determination of the Native American people. She is also currently a professor of game design at Bellevue College and has in the past volunteered as a mentor for at-risk youth at Thomas Jefferson High School in Denver.
Jenn is driven to create a world of games built on friendship, curiosity, and challenge. As an independent game developer, Jenn’s determination has led her to come up with 52 game ideas in 52 weeks and then implement 12 games in 12 months. Jenn won the 2016 IndieCade Interaction Award for her edible tabletop game, The Order of the Oven Mitt, in which you eat real food in silly rituals. She worked as a game designer/gameplay programmer/producer on Thimbleweed Park, a critically acclaimed adventure game released in 2017. Jenn’s current projects are digitally-enhanced tabletop games and baking more edible tabletop games to create a series of recipes. When she’s not focused on building games, you can find Jenn baking, exploring her local Seattle neighborhood, organizing Indie Adventures, and posting about her brooch collection.
Senior Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell
Environmental humanities, environmental ethics, American literature, and eco-grief & climate anxiety. More. One-pager.
Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences and Interactive Media Design Program, UW Bothell
Games and learning, anthropological player studies, gaming culture, educational technology.
Freelance environmental writer and statistics consultant
Water management, dams, freshwater biology, mathematics, statistics.
Associate Professor, UW Atmospheric Sciences
How climate change can alter big, climatic features, like storm tracks, tropical rain bands, or deserts, EarthGames UW Studio.
Manager of Communications, UW Interdisciplinary Center for Exposures, Disease, Genomics & Environment and UW Superfund Research Program
Stress physiology, environmental endocrinology, science policy, science communication, climate adaptation. More. Mixer only.
Climate Writer, Grist
Scientist-turned-journalist, telling the story of humanity’s relationship with our home planet in new and creative ways. Jam only.
Research Assistant Professor, UW Educational Studies
Learning sciences (how people learn), equity (how designed learning environments position learners), instructional design (how designed environments support learning), game design (how game mechanics support learning).
Research Scientist, UW Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences
Freshwater ecosystems (lakes, streams, wetlands), and how these are impacted by humans in different ways ranging from climate change to invasive species. Jam only.
Professor, UW Environmental and Forest Sciences
How climate change can drive shifts in plant and animal distributions, and the impacts those shifts have at both the species and the ecosystem level.
Research Scientist, UW Climate Impacts Group
Background: Climate science. Focus: Sea level rise, flooding, and what we can do to prepare. Jam only.
Regional Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy
Floodplain restoration: reducing flood risk and restoring floodplain habitat. Mixer only.
Research Associate, UW Oceanography
Paleoclimate science, climate communication, feminism, and public leadership. More. Mixer only.
Assistant Professor, UW Aquatic and Fisheries Science
Coral reef ecology and physiology, reproduction, shellfish, the future of seafood, climate change, marine pollution, seaweeds.
Research Scientist & Strategic Communications Lead, UW Climate Impacts Group
Climate change & risk communication, community engagement, polar climate change. More.
Research Scientist, UW Climate Impacts Group
Species habitat connectivity and climate-induced range shifts. By phone/email only.
Actionable Science Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwest Climate Science Center, UW
Assessing the vulnerability of transportation to climate change, particularly related to high flows and landslides. Mixer only.
Research Associate, University of Washington
Impacts of climate change on food security; changes in climate over the past one million years; education and communication about climate change. Game Jam: Research Judge.
Game Developer and Founder, 20after1
Cultural values, history and storytelling in games; inclusive community-based game development; Never Alone; augmented reality. Jam only.
Postdoctoral Fellow, UW Atmospheric Sciences
How parts of the Earth system interact with the weather and climate. Game Jam: Research Judge.
EarthGames 2018 was organized in partnership with:
Thank you to our sponsors: