Ever wonder how you’ll survive an apocalyptic climate crisis? You can now get a simulated preview of your survival chances in a newly released, multiplatform video game, The Climate Trail. Developed by William Volk, the game focuses on a group of climate refugees fleeing Atlanta for Canada as the conditions all around them worsen.
Wanting to raise awareness about the climate crisis in hopes of dispelling climate change denial and inaction, Volk charged ahead with creating the game despite having to overcome “the challenge of learning a new development system (Ren’Py) and programming language (Python).” Thus, he released The Climate Trail, which combines visual graphic novel storytelling with simulation game elements.
According to his developer blog, “I’ve self-funded the project because I want to make people care about the climate issue,” Volk explained. “I wanted to create an emotional impact, weave in science information and make a game that makes a difference. I’ve always believed that games can have social value.”
Inspired by the iconic game The Oregon Trail, which was a hallmark of elementary, middle and high schools from the 1970s to the 1990s, Volk’s game is as an educational survival foray, wherein players are pitted against hunger, thirst, extreme weather and other cataclysmic disasters in a dystopian future ravaged by the excesses of climate change. Incorporating scientific information about global warming, greenhouse gas emissions and sea level rise, Volk hopes the game will be introduced to schools as an instructive tool, teaching the value of resourcefulness in unpredictable and risky scenarios.
With education as his top priority for the game, Volk made sure to steer away from gun-toting scenes, even humbly apologizing in his blog, “Sorry, no shooting in this one.” Rather, he chose to focus on knowledge and information, saying he paid “a lot more attention to the science of climate change” to make the game convincing, for the purpose of “catching the conscience of the deniers and doubters, to really take climate change seriously.”
Volk shared, “The catch-22 about this game is I started it with a much more optimistic attitude than when I finished it. The more I dug into it, the more it seemed things were actually worse than imagined.”
There are three levels of difficulty: moderate, significant and extreme. Available free for download and even free of advertisements, the game can be played with Mac, PC Windows and Linux systems. Mobile versions for iPhone, iPad and Android Google Play are available as well.
Images via The Climate Trail