Climate Game Jam Background

In December, 2014, the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) launched a Climate Education and Literacy Initiative to help connect American students and citizens with the best-available, science-based information about climate change.  As commitment in support of this effort, experts in climate science, education, and game design collaborated to harness the promise of educational games and interactive media to enhance understanding and awareness of climate change impacts and solutions. The first Climate Game Jam was held October 2-4, 2015 to create new game prototypes that allow players to learn about climate change science, solutions, and resilience through science-based, interactive experiences. A second Climate Game Jam – focused specifically on Water – was held April 15-24, 2016.

Now, following last fall’s Arctic Science Ministerial meeting, we are excited to announce a new Climate Game Jam focused on the Arctic! From April 21 – 30, 2017, Arctic Climate Game Jams will be held at multiple sites. The Arctic Climate Game Jam promotes the use of Arctic science as a vehicle for STEM education and citizen empowerment, and offers a unique opportunity for students, educators, scientists, and game designers to work together on the development of climate game prototypes that span a range of platforms, topics, and audiences.

The Arctic Climate Game Jam will encourage the creation of new game prototypes that allow players to learn about the effects of as well as solutions to climate change in the Arctic through a science-based interactive experience.  Teams of students, educators, scientists, game designers, and others can dedicate up to 48 hours of game design within the selected date range (April 21-30, 2017). Four age categories have been established along with five game categories (Hack this game, Paper Prototype, Analog Game, Basic Digital Game and Advanced Digital Game). Game design teams will choose from important Arctic-related topics including changing sea levels, sea ice and glacier melt, ocean acidification, impacts on Indigenous communities, shifting ecosystems, and more. The Arctic climate game jam offers a unique opportunity for participants to work as design teams, learn science facts, consider how a changing Arctic affects us all, and produce engaging experiences for audiences of many ages. No previous experience with game design is necessary.

The goals of the Arctic Climate Game Jam are:

  • To promote the power of learning through games
  • To foster the use of Arctic science as a vehicle for STEM education and citizen empowerment
  • To help break the climate spiral of silence 
  • To help the public understand that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic

Games are increasingly used in educational settings to help inspire curiosity, creativity, collaboration, optimism, and problem-solving skills among a wide variety of audiences.  Serious games address real-world challenges, compress time and space, encourage systems thinking, and promote active engagement, making them particularly well suited to climate change education.