Climate Change Board Games Inspire Hope
Talking about climate change can be overwhelming. Research shows that board games might be the solution to help us learn about and engage with climate change issues.
Take a minute to think about your favourite board game. Do you like strategic games, role-playing, or family fun board games? What about the ones that can teach you about climate change as you play? Studies show how board games might be the best learning device to think creatively about climate change.
There is an increase in public desire to engage with climate change that goes beyond reading news articles or watching documentaries. People want to learn about climate change in a tangible way. Climate change-themed board games can do that. Moreover, while traditional board games focus on having winners and losers, climate-change board games highlight collaboration and decision-making as the key to success.
The KEEP COOL board game allows players to make decisions regarding black and green growth, adapt to inevitable climate impacts, and work with lobby and environmental groups. In understanding the effectiveness of games for teaching and communicating about climate change and climate politics, researchers found that players felt more confident in the potential for climate politics and felt a higher personal responsibility after playing the game. After surveying 200 players, the researchers found that effective climate games do not need to require climate protection as a winning condition from the players. Players respond better to the climate crisis if they experience obstacles to climate protection.
As we see every day in the real world, there isn’t a one-solution-fits-all approach to tackling climate change, and climate change-themed games teach players about these sorts of barriers and the need for international cooperation. DAYBREAK is another example of a cooperative board game about stopping climate change. The goal is to reach zero emissions before hitting the 2-degree warming point or putting too many communities in crisis. Players can make decisions by choosing to double down on reforestation, implement renewable energy, or develop new sustainable technologies. The game helps players experience complex solutions and make decisions which may have consequences.
Other board games look back in time and explore past injustices. Rising Waters explores the Great Mississippi flood of 1927. Players cooperate to save families from floods and work through problems such as food insecurity. The game is designed to teach players about historical events while teaching empathy and understanding that hopefully spark outrage, questions and action.
Climate change-themed board games allow young and old players to understand the influence of their decisions, even if they may not be climate change experts or have extensive knowledge about the issues in the real world. The colours and images of these board games will help players think creatively about climate change issues and may help them feel more empowered and positive about tackling these issues.