A new board game that will soon hit the market asks players representing otherwise opposing global superpowers to work cooperatively to solve climate change.
The new game, Daybreak, was developed by Matteo Menapace and Matt Leacock, the same designers who created the hit game Pandemic in 2008. In 2020, when interest in Pandemic returned because of COVID-19, Menapace and Leacock once again joined forces to develop a game that would "explore systemic, high-impact solutions to the climate crisis" without being "preachy," Menapace wrote in a blog post last September.
The result of their efforts is Daybreak, a game that, according to its website, "presents an optimistic vision of the near future, where you and your friends get to build the mind-blowing technologies and resilient societies we need to decarbonize the world."
In Daybreak, which was originally called Climate Crisis, players act as a governmental power representing various countries or regions in the world, including the U.S., China, and the European Union, though other, less wealthy areas are also represented as well. "The last thing we want is for people to be treating their populations of vulnerable folks as hitpoints, or things to trade off, or resources," Leacock said.
Player-governments then negotiate with one another to reduce greenhouse emissions. Should one government-player achieve net-zero emissions, that player is the winner, but if one government-player has too many communities in crisis, everyone loses. In addition to carbon levels, all government-players share one other common enemy: time. Once time expires, the game is over.
Thus, Daybreak encourages player-governments to team up and work cooperatively for the good of the whole planet. "Each one of these powers has different abilities," Leacock explained. "... You’ve got this global responsibility to figure out how to contribute in some way."
In remarking on the game, Leacock also admitted, perhaps unwittingly, that the U.S. affords its people greater opportunities for freedom and advancement while China's communist regime exercises more "direct control." "The United States may be very good at research and development," Leacock said. "China may have better control over its economy — direct control — and so on."
But even though the game includes adversarial superpowers like the U.S. and China, it still encourages them to work cooperatively, seemingly turning player-governments into quasi-globalists. "I think that it's an important message to get across with the game, that people really do have to cooperate," Leacock said. "That just looking at it through this nationalistic, zero sum lens is not going to get us anywhere."
In true woke fashion, Leacock and Menapace are still attempting to make Daybreak even more inclusive. To that end, they are asking "folks who have experience in climate advocacy, policy, science, engineering, art, or games" — especially folks "based or rooted in the Global South" — to become part of their team.
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