Some 400 years ago, William Shakespeare famously wrote the line: “What’s in a name?”
Next weekend, we’re asking a different question: “What’s in a game?”
Specifically, we’re asking how we can use games to help people learn about climate change in a fun, interactive way. On October 2-4, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, and their external partners will organize a National Climate Game Jam at 12 sites around the United States.
At each site, game developers, artists, climate scientists, educators, and youth will work together to use open climate data and other resources to rapidly prototype new games that will help people better understand, prepare for, and adapt to the effects of a changing climate. Promising prototypes will receive support from GlassLab Games for additional development and scale-up, and will be shared nationally online and at a special showcase at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in winter 2016.
The National Climate Game Jam fulfills a commitment made earlier this year under the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, which was launched by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in December 2014 to connect students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change.
The Game Jam will kick off at 7:15 PM EDT on October 2 with an online event, streamed live from the White House complex in Washington, DC, and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, that will feature participation from Dr. J. Michael Kuperberg, Executive Director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, Ken Eklund, game designer and creative director of Alternative Reality Serious Games, and Game Jam participants. The live online broadcast and archive will be accessible at www.climategamejam.org/launch.
For more information on the National Climate Game Jam, visit www.climategamejam.org. This online portal also contains a full list of institutions organizing the Game Jam and information on places where visitors can learn more about climate change.
And if you’re participating in the Game Jam (or even if you’re not!), we encourage you to share your ideas, stories, and pictures using #ClimateGameJam. Tell us what you think: “What is in a game?”
Hannah Safford is a SINSI Fellow at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Peg Steffen is Education Coordinator for the National Ocean Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.