New South Wales
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Synopsis: You are an energy consortium attempting to innovate their way out of fossil fuel dependency. You come to the table with the knowledge of the impending problems of climate change, and only so many decades in which to avert catastrophe.
Each round of play is a single decade. With each new decade, the population of humanity grows, as does the energy demand of each continent. If you have not produced a new green project for a given continent, then a fossil fuel source of energy is developed which increases the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Should the CO2 ever reach 450 parts per million, the game is lost.
You will work semi-cooperatively in order to develop a range of green projects for each continent, which generally aligns with your own interest. To bring the game to a successful end, you will need to either bring emissions back down to a safe level, or completely convert two continents to green energy. All of these projects are relevant to real world aims to offset carbon emissions, and the complexity of those projects is reflected in the amount of research and technology needed for their implementation.
Commentary: It is fair to say a significant part of the appeal for this game is personal. My area of research pertains to environmental politics, and so a game encapsulating the decarbonisation of energy production resonates with me. There is a level of intricate interconnectivity which highlights some of the complex relationships relevant to the conundrum of climate change.
This backdrop of total destruction creates enough of a space to permit modest cooperation. This is but a backdrop to the game’s competition, where the instigation of various green projects is the path to solitary victory. It is a game of strange bedfellows, because players will also be leapfrogging of each other’s projects, and hoping for group participation at conferences to advance and share knowledge. There are multiple times where players must come together, albeit briefly, for mutual benefit.
Because there is so much going on before the impending threat of climate change, it is a necessary problem of the game to allow opponents to progress change for a common good, even if they largely benefit directly from their actions. The win conditions mean you can technically bring the game to a close when you are in the lead, if you can time your actions just right.
Verdict: I am going to be biased about any game focuses on environmental politics, especially at this scale. However, Larcerda is magnificent in capturing a sense of the complexity and interconnectedness of this wicked problem.