Can Games Better Help Us Adapt to Climate Change?

Can having fun today help create serious behavioral change in order to prepare for an uncertain future?

Sunset in Nepal

Imagine: You live in a small coastal village. Your only source of income is the tiny plot of vegetables you grow for the local market. Lately it seems storms have become stronger and are battering your village with increased frequency. Your vegetable plot is sliding into the sea. Your home is next. What options do you have?

This fraught scenario is found in WWF's popular role-playing game Happy Village, which has become an important part of our climate adaptation training. We have discovered that games add an emotional dimension to helping decision makers understand the kind of tough problems many people face—a personal connection one rarely gets from reading a scholarly publication or listening to a lecture.

When "farmers" in the game find a new place to live, they discover that other villagers have chosen the same location for a new hotel, a protected area for endangered monkeys and a logging concession. Conflicts arise. Solutions must be negotiated. It's only a game, but Happy Village helps players grasp the importance of bringing together diverse stakeholders to develop common solutions to the problems they share.

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