Browser game UrbanClimateArchitect competes in New York

30.06.2016

Though the natural sciences tend to be facts-oriented, from time to time they make forays into more playful contexts. A primary example: the Games for Change Festival, held June 23 and 24 in New York, where the Cluster of Excellence for climate research CliSAP was the only university and international candidate to make it to the final round, having been invited to make a pitch for its browser game Urban Climate Architect.

Become an architect and see what it’s like to design a city and protect the climate at the same time.
Meike Ruhnau, CliSAP research coordinator and gamer, presented the browser game.
The jury at the end of the live pitch, deciding which game earned the 10.000 Dollar prize money.

The purpose of what are referred to as Serious Games is to address concrete challenges to society – like climate change – and Hamburg’s Urban Climate Architect does precisely that. To present the game, Meike Ruhnau and Elisabeth Weidinger from the Cluster of Excellence CliSAP were invited to the biggest festival in the Serious-Games scene. From among the 55 prototype climate games submitted, the Urban Climate Architect was selected for the final round of competition in the Climate Change Challenge. The four finalists, who competed for a cash prize of $10,000, had five minutes each to impress the jury of games experts and climate researchers with their game concept.

UrbanClimateArchitect

In this classic drag-and-drop game, the user becomes the architect of their very own city. As they continue to build and add new structures, they receive immediate feedback on the resultant changes to their city’s climate – and can experience firsthand which factors are most important for urban climates. The game was the brainchild of Ute Kreis, Head of Outreach at CliSAP, who subsequently worked together with the Urban Climate Research Team under Prof. Heinke Schlünzen and David Grawe to convey scientific content in a playful way. The project was financially supported by Hamburg’s Ministry for the Environment and Energy.

You’re welcome to try out the CliSAP Urban Climate Architect for yourself, and to strike a balance between human needs like places to live and work, and the urban climate. The game has recently been made available online as a free browser version.

Games for Change

Once all the live pitches had been heard, a professional game developer ultimately took home the prize for best climate game. But that didn’t dampen Elisabeth Weidinger’s spirits: “It was exciting and instructive to gain these insights into the Games for Change scene. The various talks covered topics like roleplaying in teaching history, or sponsorship programs for young women in the games branch. Even without the prize money, we brought home plenty of new ideas!”

 

Impressions from the 13th Games-for-Change-Festival