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New Videogame Encourages Players to Fight Climate Change

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"When it comes to climate change, you can avoid it, reverse it or sit and take it."

"Fate of the World"

Climate-change apologists have a new tool in their arsenal to recruit warriors: video games.

A new video game called "Fate of the World" presents an apocalyptic glimpse of the future, encouraging those who play to fight global climate change. It's the second such game by developer Red Redemption.

How does it work? "The player must manage a balancing act of protecting the Earth's resources and climate versus the needs of an ever-growing world population, who are demanding ever more food, power, and living space," the games website says.

"Decide how the world will respond to rising temperatures, heaving populations, dwindling resources, crumbling ecosystems and brave opportunities."

The reviews echo the marketing, like one in Edge magazine: "The player toys with a complex ecological simulation of the earth over the better part of two centuries -- and, depending on their chosen objectives, can choose to rescue it from the brink of destruction or ensure that humanity's annihilation is all but absolute."

In August's edition of Nature, Aleks Trotoski cites "Fate of the World" as an example of a multimedia platform that allows for "learning about science through play." He reminds his audience that "evidence has grown that computer-based play can support learning in schools" -- the implication being that playing games about catastrophic climate change can teach children to become advocates for stopping it -- and goes on to say that "game play could help us to make better decisions about our future."

"If this is what it takes to wake up complacent youth about scenarios we could face if we aren't pro-active, then I am supportive," writes Matthew Kahn of the Christian Science Monitor.

That awakening occurs when players chose one of five "master plans" for the globe. The euphemistic names are almost self-explanatory. For example, the Dr. Apocalypse plan puts you on track to "raise the planet's temperature a lethal degree." Star Ark has as its plan to "save only yourself while abandoning everyone else to whatever catastrophes await them." And finally, the Utopia plan means "you can try to build a perfect society while battling population growth."

"Fate of the World" is the second climate-change game from developer Red Redemption. It's first, the award-winning "Climate Change" made for the BBC, was played by over 970,000 gamers.

The company has even created a Hollywood-style trailer to market the game, complete with dramatic music and doomed language. After the phrase "2010: Climate change negotiations fail" floats across the screen, we are given a glimpse of the future: "2020: The world wakes up to the first big impacts." A new world agency is created (G.E.O) and we have the reigns -- reminded toward the end that we must "live with the consequences."

According to an interview with one of the game's designers, Gobion Rowlands, the developers worked closely with Dr. Myles Allen to ensure the science behind the game was as accurate as possible. Allen is currently a lecturer at Oxford, but used to work for the United Nations Environment Programme in Kenya. His bio claims he has "provided some of the core evidence that most of the warming over the past 50 years is attributable to human activities."

Another designer, Ian Roberts, summed the game up in simple terms: "When it comes to climate change, you can avoid it, reverse it or sit and take it."

A version for PCs will be released in October, while a Mac version will be released the following quarter.

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