We are looking at the earth from above. The city's skyscrapers are reaching for the sky below us. Further away, we can see the chimneys of large power plants, an airfield and the woods beyond them. All of a sudden, the image starts to lose its focus – the smog starts to get more intense, plants are dying and the sea is losing its healthy color. Children are laughing.
Horrible. How did it come to this?
Luckily, we are talking about EduCycle, an educational climate change game. It has been developed to illustrate the impact of our choices concerning energy, traffic and food production. Children have built a number of coal-fired power plants, industrial facilities and farms to see how quickly our environment can be ruined. Building takes place by placing small pieces on a map spread on a table, but the actual 3D game view rises up from the table when viewed through an iPad. The game utilizes augmented reality that makes objects come into life in a way that even leaves many adults breathless.
Experience is known to be one of the most effective tools in sales and influencing. EduCycle is not only an educational project, but also part of marketing. It does not simply inspire children to think about our climate, but it also offers much to consider to adults, including Neste's customers and decision-makers. Sustainable low-emission options are already available, and EduCycle gives us the opportunity to experience their advantages in near reality.
The impact of all in-game choices are based on IPCC data, and the criteria for succeeding in the game are derived from the goals of the Paris Agreement. Basically, the game deals with serious issues, and finding the correct choices is not always easy – money and the happiness of people have their own roles in the game logic, just like in real life and politics.
Throughout history, people have relied on stories, games, books and movies to experience and handle matters that may not be part of their everyday lives. Currently, games are one of the strongest forms of narration, and they differ from traditional story-telling in that the player is part of the story.
When we demonstrated EduCycle to schoolchildren in San Francisco at the end of March, their first reaction was to test their limits. After all, it is exciting to see what happens when you choose the options that most load the environment. As the game progressed, the children's ideas changed. They discussed and debated over what kinds of choices would decelerate climate change, make people happy and let the game continue.
And, this is what it is all about. The game to stop climate change must continue. The more players share this goal, the better chances we have of winning.
EduCycle can soon be played, for example, at Finnish science center Heureka, and it will also be donated to Finnish schools. People can freely try the game at the Sanomatalo media square on April 12, 2017 at 1–6 pm. Contact us if you are interested.