Climate games are a fun way to explore the climate crisis and climate solutions. Most people don’t want to focus on gloom and doom or political organizing all day. They want down time for relaxation and social activities like playing games with friends and family. Climate games help us unwind while exploring climate themes.
What Are Climate Games?
Climate games are games that contain significant climate themes or references. Some climate games focus entirely on addressing the climate crisis. Others address climate implicitly or tangentially by including climate references or game mechanics related to greenhouse gas emissions and climate disruptions.
If you know of any climate games that you don’t see on this list, please contact me. I want to include them all!
Climate Change Games on itch.io
itch.io is a fun and easy way to find and share indie games online. A growing number of these games feature direct and indirect references to climate change and the climate crisis. My Climate Change Games on itch.io page features a comprehensive list of all games on itch.io that include significant climate themes. It also includes links to my reviews of these games.
Climate Video Games
- Cranky Uncle. The Cranky Uncle game uses cartoons and critical thinking to fight misinformation. The game was developed by George Mason University scientist John Cook, in collaboration with creative agency Autonomy. The game is now available for free on iPhone and Android. The smooth gameplay, including colorful cartoons, really makes this fun enough to appeal to a broad audience beyond the usual die-hard climate communicator crowd.
- A Greener Worldle. Guess A GREENER WORLDLE in 6 tries. This is inspired by WORDLE (the guessing game created by Josh Wardle). It was produced by the International Institute for the Environment and Development (IIED), which works with partners to build a fairer, more sustainable world. Each guess must be a valid 5 letter word, and the GREENER WORLDLE will be a word that is related to climate change and the environment. Hit the enter button to submit. After each guess, the colour of the tiles will change to show how close your guess was to the word. You want the tiles to turn green, just like the planet.
- EarthGames. EarthGames is a growing community of researchers, game developers and students who share a passion for games and the environment. We’re hard at work adapting the latest scientific research to develop amazing video and board games to teach and inspire players about the natural world and our role within it.
- Deal: A Green New Election by EarthGames. This is a fun and somewhat addicting game. You’re a local politician trying to drum up support for a Green New Deal ballot initiative. It’s almost Election Day, and your ballot initiative is clinging to a narrow lead in the polls. Voters are concerned about effects on jobs and cost of living, and the press is waiting for answers about difficult policy questions. An angry fossil fuel CEO has contacted you with a proposal that sounds an awful lot like a threat. And do I smell smoke?? Deal: A Green New Election is available for free for iPhone/iPad and Android (Google Play). You can play it on your phone or play in your browser (though the developers recommend the app).
- 2020 Games for Our Future (GFOF) Game Jam. From games about bats facing habitat destruction, climate revolutions, wildfire management, and finicky fornicating pandas on the mission to ensure the survival of their species — the 2020 Games for Our Future (GFOF) Game Jam had it all. This year’s event in collaboration with IndieCade, allowed game jammers from across the country (and planet!) to create games focused on the theme of ‘Community, Nature, and Resilience in the Face of Global Crises’, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The event from April 17th – 23rd drew over 150 game jammers who submitted a total of 49 diverse games, all centered around pressing environmental issues, in just 5 short days. The EarthGames article about the 2020 GFOF Game Jam tells the full story, including a list of the contest winners and a link to check out and play all of the games.
- Survive The Century. Survive the Century is a branching narrative game about the political, environmental and social choices humans will face between 2021 and 2100 as we adapt to the ravages of climate change. It’s basically a web-based “Choose Your Own Adventure” story about the climate crisis. Although the game is a work of fiction, it’s informed by real science. The designers hope that this game helps you to feel less hopeless and nihilistic about the future. Our choices matter. It’s not over. There are still a lot of decisions we can make that will lead to dramatically different futures.
- Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. Civilization VI: Gathering Storm is the second expansion pack released for Civilization VI, following Civilization VI: Rise and Fall. It adds environmental features such as volcanoes, storms (blizzards, dust storms, tornadoes, hurricanes), climate change, floods, and droughts to the game.
Climate Tabletop Games
- Energetic by City Atlas. Energetic is a four-player cooperative challenge in which you work to decarbonize New York City by building 16 GW of carbon-neutral energy by 2035 (in the Green New Deal version) or 2050 (in the standard version). You can build entirely with renewables (wind, water and solar), or, by doing research before construction, include advanced nuclear power or natural gas with carbon capture (CCS). Energetic is available through City Atlas’ partner, Artist As Citizen, a 501(c)3 arts organization. It currently costs $79 (with an option to donate more), so you may need to talk to a few of your gamer/climate friends to chip in on a group or community set.
- Catan Scenarios: Oil Springs. Catan Scenarios: Oil Springs is an expansion to the popular Catan tabletop game. All of the existing rules of Catan apply, but the expansion adds oil as a resource to be extracted, traded, and consumed. It’s the most powerful resource in the game, but watch out! If you burn too much oil, disaster strikes. Portions of the game board become unusable, and the sea levels start to rise, damaging or eliminating coastal settlements.