Climate change games like Fate of the World and Plan it Green have had a tough time being both informative and fun.
Better Creative, a Toronto start-up is confronting this challenge with their video game, Skyshapers. A game involving a jet-packed bird, whose job it is to clean up the sky.
“The strange idea of giving a bird a jetpack was to highlight and question our dependency on a primarily fossil fuel run infrastructure,” says Abhilasha Dewan, animator and co-founder of Better Creative.
A main message the developers want to convey is that as much as people try to be environmentally clean, they do contribute to almost all of the Earth’s pollution through their reliance of fossil fuels. This metaphor is seen through the eyes of the game’s protagonist, who contributes to his own clean up effort while combating the dirty air pollution rising from the bottom of the screen.
“What better way is there to connect with the simple reality that we’ve polluted too much, and all of these accumulated emissions are now having major consequences?” says Kai Reimer-Watts, co-founder of Better Creative.
Reimer-Watts came up with the idea of Skyshapers when he was completing his Master of Climate Change at the University of Waterloo.
“I realized that one of the biggest things that was wrong with so many so-called climate change games out there was that they [were] boring, too complicated or simply not fun to play,” he says.
Reimer-Watts argues that there are way too many games that only incorporate counting your own emissions instead of actively doing something about it.
Brendan Frye, editor-in-chief at CGMagazine, agrees that most climate change games he has seen do not do a great job at conveying a message.
“Normally the games manage to look at how the culture and society can work without the need for oil and other forms of fossils fuels,” he says. “That being said, it does feel like more could be done in the field.”
Inspired by .GEARS Studio’s Flappy Bird, Reimer-Watts wanted to make sure their game was fun first and informative second.
“We wanted to create a character that would be a strong metaphor for this dangerous and unsustainable obsession, provoke conversation to question it and encourage solutions for an alternate cleaner future,” says Dewan.
After presenting the Skyshapers game at the Toronto Public Library last week, Better Creative is looking for programmers to take their prototype to the next level. To get in touch with Better Creative email hello@bettercreative[dot]ca.