Climate change as a multi-player adventure game

Last month, I wrote a piece exploring climate change as a massively multi-player adventure game. I played on James Hansen’s comment where he says the Athabasca tar sands are “game over for the planet.”

Climate change and our response to it lends itself well to gaming and adventure narratives. The discourse can be so grim that I wanted to explore something more playful. Re-reading the article, it is still rather grim, even though I wrote it before this summer’s deadly heat emergencies, wild fires, and oil spills.

Discussions about environmental and economic changes need more creativity and innovation. I think gamificiation of the climate crisis could be a useful way to bring in new players working toward a safer, steadier planet.

Humanity’s disruption of the climate is the greatest adventure in our history. Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are a participant in the most massively multi-player game of all time. Seven billion of us are playing a game like no other—and with terminal stakes. The game board is global in scope; the timeline measured in centuries. There are heroes and villains; players who trumpet fantastical myths, others who proclaim or deny grim warnings. A few players promise world-changing magics that could save or destroy us all. There are acts of bravery and of suicidal madness, secret factions colluding, and popular armies working to unseat corrupt power. Anthropogenic global warming is a perilous, defining adventure and it is both our burden and privilege to be a part of it.

Like any good adventure, ours is filled with dangerous possibility and uncertainty. What we know for certain is that global warming is happening, it is caused by human action, and it demands an extraordinary and urgent response. Thinking about global warming as a massive, shared adventure—with real risk and danger—can help us understand our situation. It can also help define our own roles, and recognize the consequences of our gameplay.

Read the whole thing at (cult)ure magazine, a project edited my friend Lauren Cheal.