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The University of Southampton

Climate Games Festival engages game enthusiasts to tackle climate crisis

Published: 18 April 2023
Members of public playing Daybreak
Matteo Menapace playing the new 'Daybreak' boardgame with members of the public.

Game designers, developers, and enthusiasts have joined together at a unique festival for the opportunity to create and play games that tackle the climate crisis.

The Climate Games Festival kicked off on Thursday 13 April at Winchester School of Art, part of Southampton University.

Adam Procter, the Course Leader for Games Design and organiser of the event, wanted to provide a platform for game designers to share their ideas and work on solutions, while demonstrating the potential of games to engage people in important social and environmental issues.

You can hear more about the event from Adam in the video below.


The three-day event offered workshops, talks and Q&A panels from game designers responding to the climate crisis, as well as 12 climate-themed games for visitors to play – including Catan: Global Warming and Earth Rising.

There was also the fantastic opportunity to be among the first in the world to play the newest cooperative board game about stopping climate change, Daybreak – co-designed by Matt Leacock, the creator of Pandemic, and Matteo Menapace. He said: “I had the opportunity to work with Matt (Leacock) after he had created the game ‘Pandemic’, which became quite real suddenly in 2020.

“Together we started that conversation around what else could be done with games, thinking about what other problems we could model and how we could empower people to see the solutions behind those problems.

“We really wanted Daybreak to be a positive story that shows the reality of climate change, so we are not hiding the fact it’s brutal, but at the same time we’re showing a huge number of solutions that are based on science and policy, so that people can understand what is possible.

“When people play Daybreak, we want them to get more of a systemic understanding of both what is at stake and what can be done about it on a global level, and hopefully they get inspired to take collective action.”

Menapace was able to play the new game throughout the event alongside visitors and even hosted a workshop alongside Hwa Young Jung – creator of PTown Bay MMXXX – where attendees could prototype and playtest their own climate-themed games.

Adam Procter said the success of the event was a testament to how powerful games can be to engage audiences in real world issues. He said: “Games have a sense of player agency and involvement that grips you and engages you in ways that other media simply can’t.

“You can model complex situations, and through playing various scenarios, players can see the outcomes of their choices, which gives people the space to talk about these complex situations as they play through them.

“Outreach is also something that is really important at the University of Southampton, so to invite members of the public to come along and be educated in issues like the climate-crisis, it’s something that all universities should do.

“We are at the edge of research, we know some answers and solutions, but we need others to get involved in that particularly if we want to change public policy, and so the more people we can engage in our research activities, the more impact that research will have in the real world.”

For more information, visit the Winchester School of Art website.

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