The non-hunger games

Remember Sim City?  The computer game?  It's still going.

The gist of Sim City* is that each player sets up their own city – then must face unforeseen circumstances and see how their civic design holds up. Unforeseen events can include a hurricane, flood or earthquake, a massive traffic pile up downtown or a nuclear power plant meltdown, just to name a few.

Many cynical young things who had it in for the establishment learned via Sim City that civic planning and the economics of town operations are not as easy as they look.  "It's complicated."  Tough decisions have to be made.  This -- that tough decisions have to be made -- is an important lesson to learn in life.  Games like Sim City teach such lessons in an engaging way.

Footprint: people are walking..
Sustainability games
What if there were games to teach us about Sustainability?

At a small summit recently I met a man from Kittery, Maine who has developed just that.  Not a computer game, but a simple card game. 76 playing cards that lead players down a path towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

The game is called "Footprint," from Starbright Games.  The card deck costs under $20 (with shipping). 
It's a good idea  and a great teaching tool. Also an excellent way to kick off a summit on the subject of Sustainability: a fun but certain way to get everyone engaged with the subject of sustainability and communicating their positions and values.

Sustainability themed games as teaching tools
How big is your house going to be? How will you finance your car? Where do you buy your groceries? Should you downsize your life? And what is the real cost of these decisions? These are questions you have to answer in Footprint.

Seems like a decent tool for starting a dialogue.  Or a tool to kickoff a themed workshop.  Or a prize to give away at a green-themed conference.  I like it.  Thought it was worth mentioning.


*Side note:  About Sim City:
The objective of SimCity, as the moniker suggests, is to build and design a simulation of a city.  There are no specific goals to achieve (except in the scenarios, see below) anything in particular. The player can mark land as being zoned as commercial, industrial, or residential, add buildings, change the tax rate, build a power grid, build transportation systems and take many other actions, in order to enhance the city. Once able to construct buildings in a particular area, the too-small-to-see residents, known as Sims, may choose to construct and upgrade houses, apartment blocks, light or heavy industrial buildings, commercial buildings, hospitals, churches, and other structures. The Sims make these choices based on such factors as traffic levels, adequate electrical power, crime levels, and proximity to other types of buildings—for example, residential areas next to a power plant will seldom appreciate to the highest grade of housing.

Also, the player may face disasters including flooding, tornadoes, fires (often from air disasters or even shipwrecks), earthquakes and attacks by monsters. In addition, monsters and tornadoes can trigger train crashes by running into passing trains. There was also a reported case of a nuclear meltdown. Later disasters in the game's sequels included lightning strikes, volcanoes, meteors and attack by extraterrestrial craft. In the Super Nintendo version and later, one can also build rewards when they are given to them, such as a mayor's mansion or a casino.



Kathleen Hurley