I don't play any video games. Not because I'm too good or too cool for them or because I think they rot brains and cause diabetes or anything like that. But rather because I know from limited experience as a child obsessively playing Kings Quest, SimCity, and Shadow President that if I were to dip my toes into the waters of Civilization or Spore or any of these other awesome simulation games, I would immediately be threatening my sleep, health, sanity, and relationship.
So I'm not going to be able to tell you much about what it's like to play Fate of the World, a brand new climate change-themed global strategy simulation game. But here's the trailer:
The basic premise here seems to be that world leaders haven't managed to do squat yet about the global climate crisis, but maybe you at home can do better!
Fate of the World is a dramatic global strategy game that puts all our futures in your hands. The game features a dramatic set of scenarios based on the latest science covering the next 200 years. You must manage a balancing act of protecting the Earth's resources and climate versus the needs of an ever-growing world population, who are demanding ever more food, power, and living space. Will you help the whole planet or will you be an agent of destruction?
Last year, while I was covering the U.N. climate talks in the run up to COP15 in Copenhagen, there was a fair bit of chatter about this game and its predecessor, a lightweight climate change sim for the BBC called Climate Challenge that has been played more than a million times. The game designers seemed intent on getting all the socio-political dynamics right. The science, too, is crucial. Game designers worked closely with Dr. Myles Allen, the head of climate dynamics at Oxford University, and integrated volumes of real world climate data.
Allen was, in fact, the reason the game came into being at all. Gobion Rowlands, head of Red Redemption, offered the Guardian this anecdote: "My wife was working on Allen's Climateprediction.net project [a project to use the power of home PCs to process climate model data], when he took me out for dinner. We got quite drunk, and I bragged that we could make a computer game about anything. He challenged us to make one about climate change."
A beta version of "Fate of the World" is available for download today for PC, and should be available for Mac by March 2011.