Columbia Student Presents Climate Change Board Games at COP27

Columbia Student Presents Climate Change Board Games at COP27

Jiangnan Shen is a pupil in Columbia College’s Sustainability Administration program, and the co-founder of an organization referred to as Enviroally that’s utilizing board video games to show individuals about climate change.

The corporate debuted its latest recreation, Planet-E, in November on the United Nations Climate Change Convention of Youth. Then, on the COP27 climate change summit, Shen gave a TEDx speak about game-based approaches to local weather schooling. Whereas she was nonetheless in Egypt for the convention, we obtained in contact together with her to be taught extra about the benefits of utilizing board video games to speak about climate change and discover options, what comes subsequent for the corporate, and the way readers can get their palms on one of many video games. The Q&A under has been edited for size and readability.

board game cards and pieces

Pacific Climate Journey is a board recreation from Enviroally, an schooling firm co-founded by Jiangnan Shen from Columbia College’s Sustainability Administration program.

What impressed you to begin your organization?

Our firm, Enviroally, is a sustainability schooling firm based by Qiqi Feng and co-founded by Qidi Zhu and myself. The three of us got here to know one another at a climate change simulation occasion in 2019, the place Qidi was the facilitator, and Qiqi and I had been the contributors. The sturdy momentum of that occasion continues to today and has been shaping our unceasing ardour for local weather schooling and motion.

We’ve designed a spread of gamified local weather schooling instruments, together with board video games which had been praised by professionals and contributors of our occasions. The video games proved to be useful and enjoyable for college kids that lack tutorial local weather schooling backgrounds.

We wish Enviroally to be not nearly board video games — we’re open to any sort of revolutionary multidisciplinary instructional program and initiatives that encourage public consciousness of sustainable growth subjects, particularly climate change.

Why are board video games an necessary instrument in educating individuals about climate change?

It’s not onerous to think about these situations:

  1. Environmental science college students stroll right into a classroom, see the board recreation props, and are pleasantly shocked after they be taught that the educating content material will likely be carried out by way of this recreation at this time. Right now’s class provides a special feeling.
  2. A teen who needs to attempt his hand at studying about climate change is in search of associated actions. He may be drawn to gamified local weather schooling workshops versus very tutorial or critical instructional actions.
  3. A board recreation fan randomly picks up a brand new technique board recreation in a recreation bar, and he doesn’t care that he has no background data about climate change. Nonetheless, when he and his pals begin the sport, they get hold of data associated to climate change by way of the sport guidelines and mechanisms, the textual content and photos on the playing cards, the character background, and communication among the many gamers. Maybe, after the sport is over, he and his pals will replay the sport and he’ll unknowingly herald new fascinated about climate change.

For individuals who aren’t interested by climate change, a free dialogue is an important step in inspiring local weather consciousness. What’s extra, we don’t pressure slogans and data into the participant’s thoughts — they arrive there on account of the participant’s personal initiative.

board game with cards and pieces

Enviroally debuted its second board recreation, Planet-E, on the UN Convention of Youth in November.

Might you inform us a bit about how your video games work, and supply some examples of how gamers be taught key ideas from them?

Our two board video games, Pacific Climate Adventures and Planet-E, are utterly completely different recreation genres.

Pacific Climate Adventures is a lightweight technique board recreation appropriate for youngsters and adults. Every participant takes on a task, resembling an Indigenous particular person, tribal chief, fisherman, vacationer, resort developer, scientist, or movie director. The sport relies within the South Pacific islands, and gamers cooperatively reply questions and encounter occasions underneath the danger of being submerged by sea stage rise, utilizing their abilities to assist one another to attain victory. On this perilous recreation for survival, we consider that groups who’re good at cooperation and love sustainable growth will win.

Pacific Climate Adventures is appropriate for varsity programs, workshops, neighborhood actions, and many others. It’s particularly appropriate for people who find themselves unfamiliar with climate change points in South Pacific Island nations. This recreation guides gamers to debate climate change points in a relaxed ambiance. The occasion host can freely select the kind of playing cards primarily based on the theme of the exercise earlier than the sport. For instance, the playing cards chosen could deal with worldwide perspective, neighborhood enchancment, or private local weather motion. We suggest that the host conducts additional in-depth discussions with gamers after the sport, primarily based on the content material of the playing cards.

After the sport, gamers can classify the playing cards in keeping with the knowledge they comprise and type out the data associated to climate change. For instance, historic occasions of nice significance (occasion playing cards associated to the Paris local weather settlement), disasters brought on by climate change (often in dangerous occasion playing cards), how we reply to climate change, and the way we mitigate and adapt (often in good occasion playing cards).

Our different recreation, Planet-E, is a fancy system with seven completely different landforms, starting from wetland to forest to farmland. The configuration of those completely different landscapes modifications in every recreation, giving the gamers a special gaming expertise every time. These landforms will likely be surrounded by three distinctive ecosystems (coastal, desert, and mountain), which might pose obstacles to settlement, however on the similar time current distinctive alternatives.

Because the gamers work collectively to construct a metropolis on Planet-E, sustaining a very good steadiness between the ecosystem, economic system, and climate change is of utmost significance, as it should decide whether or not the group succeeds or not. Collaboration and communication are on the core of this recreation. Because the gamers rework Planet-E, making it extra sustainable, they might want to work carefully collectively and suppose strategically about every of their strikes on the planet.

What do you hope gamers will take away out of your video games?

Take Planet-E for instance. Planet-E accommodates quite a lot of scientific data on local weather points and ecological safety. Its sources embody scientific papers, traditional instances of nature-based options, and a number of other experiences from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We hope that whereas serving to gamers perceive the underlying logic of climate change points, they will domesticate their capability to take a detailed have a look at sustainable growth with systematic pondering.

Do you suppose that video games resembling Enviroally’s may result in real-world options? In that case, how?

I’d say sure. We created an environment friendly studying instrument, so extra individuals will study climate change and different sustainable growth subjects. We consider that earlier than you’ll be able to act, you want to first know and perceive.

Utilizing Pacific Climate Adventures for instance, after we talked to youth from the South Pacific at COP27, they’re very shocked that our group is on the market advocating for climate change points within the Pacific and they’re very blissful to assist us and collaborate with us sooner or later. We’re at present exploring alternatives to good Pacific Climate Adventures, ensuring it represents cultures within the South Pacific and conveys the actual voices of the South Pacific.

When individuals from completely different backgrounds and completely different components of the world are interested by Pacific Climate Adventures and convey it to their neighborhood, this board recreation is functioning as a bridge between individuals within the South Pacific and folks worldwide. Extra importantly, being a board recreation, it’s a enjoyable and fascinating approach to study tales within the South Pacific. Pacific Climate Adventures can develop into, not solely a instrument, but in addition a platform for sharing tales — particularly, climate change tales. 

Who has performed the video games to this point, and what has been their response?

The primary model of Pacific Climate Adventures was examined at Australia Nationwide College. Initially, designing this board recreation was Qiqi’s group undertaking in school, the place they had been requested to design educating props for freshmen. Ultimately, the prototype of this board recreation gained the unanimous acknowledgment of scholars and professors. To advertise the sport to a wider viewers, particularly to make it accessible to non-environmental college students, we’ve invited worldwide pals to take part within the closed beta of Pacific Climate Adventures.

The primary model of Planet-E was examined at COY17 (The seventeenth UN Climate Change Convention of Youth) in early November. The contributors actually had enjoyable that day. The closing time of that session ought to have been 8 p.m.. Nonetheless, there have been three gamers who didn’t need to go away till 9:30 p.m., when all lights had been turned off by the venue employees. One participant mentioned she needs to assist us translate this recreation from English to Arabic. One other participant really helpful this recreation to his pal and mentioned that it teaches individuals not solely about climate change but in addition every little thing about sustainable growth.

people sitting around a table with a board game on it

Younger individuals testing out Planet-E on the UN Convention of Youth.

How can individuals play your video games — are they on the market but?

The digital model of Pacific Climate Adventures is free. We are going to add it on our LinkedIn and Instagram accounts over the subsequent few weeks. The bodily variations of Pacific Climate Adventures and Planet-E are anticipated to be bought in February 2023.

Based mostly on the data content material of board video games and the traits of recreation mechanics, we’ve designed some workshops to assist gamers develop their data of climate change. We are going to maintain some such occasions ourselves; we additionally count on that establishments and people that use our board video games for instructional events can consult with the design methodology of the workshop. They’ll have enjoyable by taking part in video games, in addition to making full use of recreation design, resembling props and guidelines, to assist gamers dig deeper into content material, lead gamers to suppose deeply and talk, and at last convey the subject again to our each day local weather actions.

If anybody at Columbia College is interested by taking part in these two video games, I’m blissful to check them at Columbia earlier than our group begins to promote them.

How has your schooling from the Sustainability Administration program helped to form your video games?

This summer time I took a course referred to as Sustainable Forest Administration, taught by Professor Ralph Schmidt. In that class, I realized a really attention-grabbing saying: “The entire is bigger than the sum of its components,” from Aristotle. Professor Schmidt used this sentence to conclude that the advantages of a complete forest are better than the sum of the advantages of particular person timber. As a result of this data may be very spectacular, I put this sentence on one of many safety playing cards of Planet-E.
people sitting around a table with a board game on it

What are your subsequent objectives on your firm and board video games?

Our short-term plan is to translate “Pacific Climate Journey” into a number of languages and additional put it up for sale all over the world. As well as, we hope to open supply the design of “Pacific Climate Journey” by way of our web site, in order that extra individuals can be a part of the sport co-creation, contribute local weather occasions updates, construct the query financial institution, and additional develop the proper solutions to those questions in a diversified means. We sit up for establishing cooperative relationships particularly with people and establishments from South Pacific Island nations. For instance, to enhance the artwork design of “Pacific Climate Journey” and add extra genuine and enriching native cultural parts.

Relating to Planet-E, we are going to proceed to develop a number of variations of the sport to maintain our gamers . Actually, along with the present cooperative model, there are two different unbiased recreation prototypes underneath enchancment. On the similar time, we sit up for holding in contact with people and establishments that use Planet-E for instructional functions, following up and serving to them make higher use of the sport’s personal design, and maximize the educating impact.

How had been the video games acquired at COP27?

We had been invited by the working group of the Kids and Youth Pavilion to present a TEDx discuss at COP27. It’s the first time that COP27 has had a Kids and Youth Pavilion. This working group additionally invited us to remain there and present our board video games to the viewers as a result of they wished their social media companions to movie us. We spent two days within the pavilion. Some representatives of organizations and firms wish to purchase our merchandise and cooperate with us. We’re blissful to see that individuals at COP27 like our merchandise and concepts, and we hope to draw extra individuals’s consideration to game-based educating and studying.