EcoChains: Arctic Crisis — a multiplayer climate change game developed by Barnard College professor and Arctic scientist Stephanie Pfirman and Teachers College, Columbia University professor Joey J. Lee — was recently featured in LiveScience. The goal was to design a game that to teach the impacts of climate change that in a way that “would be as entertaining as it was educational.”
A recently conducted controlled research study found that people who played the game retained new knowledge better, four weeks after gameplay, than those who read an equivalent magazine format with the same content.
As LiveScience journalist Andy Deaton describes, “The brilliance of EcoChains is that it depicts systemic causation as direct causation. Pull a carbon pollution card, and your ice melts. The carbon pollution card doesn’t result in a marginal increase in the probability of melted ice. It causes ice to melt, eliminating key species and unraveling food webs. Players have the immediate, tactile experience of turning over an ice card and watching their carefully assembled ecosystems break apart.”