Carbon balloons and pawns: A climate adventure game
By Olumide Idowu
What do balloons, pawns and adventure have to do with climate change? The answer lies with researchers at the University of Lisbon who have combined these elements to develop a climate adventure board game that teaches people about balancing carbon dioxide.
“We hope that by playing the game, people develop a more tangible understanding and appreciation of climate change,” says Monica Prado, a communicator on the project who presented the game at the Our Common Future under Climate Change conference in Paris.
“The concept of climate change is often considered to be abstract and too far removed from people’s daily life. By developing this game, we are hoping that people learn more about the kind of actions they can take to reduce their carbon footprint.”
All around the world, people are swapping climate change scare stories for fun and games. Games can be a powerful to develop abstract thinking skills; often teaching people something new without them even knowing that they have learnt it.
Climate Adventure players start the game with 7 carbon balloons and must finish the game carrying 6 to 8 carbon balloons. Entering the “atmosphere”, players answer questions about climate social impacts and climate physics.. Get the question wrong and you are given a carbon balloon (emitting carbon). Get it right and you can return balloons to the sink box (sequester carbon).
“We hope the questions help people learn about the key concept of balance,” says Prado.
Started as a PhD project under the Climate Change and Sustainable Development Policy program at the University of Lisbon, José de Sousa (Economist), Josiel Cunha (Physicist) and Mônica Prado (Communicator) have been testing the game with high school and college students in Portugal to improve the game dynamic and process.
“The second phase of the PhD project will be dedicated to testing the game with different audiences – young people and citizens in municipalities that have or are in the process of having a mitigation or adaptation climate change plan,” Prado said.
“By helping people understand the root of an abstract concept ewe hope to encourage our audience to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle,” said Prado.