Arcade Our Way 3: Proudly Untitled

Climate Change

This team of four brilliant boys from AMY NW school worked with myself, Ashley Rezvani who runs a small indie game company called "Homemade Productions" and Sierra Kirby to create a game about climate change called The Air we Breathe.


The Game

The protagonist of the game is on a quest to honor the death of their father who was a firefighter who died in the line of duty.  It is the not too distant future in Roxborough PA. You require an oxygen tank to breathe because the air quality is poor.  As you manoeuvre through the landscape (there are three levels:  deforestation, oil and gas, the government), you encounter minions/agents of the state who do the bidding of corporations and the government.  You throw knowledge at them to convert them into activists.  As you do so, advocacy posters with practical information, strategies and statistics appear (posters by Graphic and Interactive Design students at Tyler School of Art and Architecture; and facts jotted on sticky notes). On each level there are two scientists you encounter who teach you ways that you can help to better the environment and work to improve the climate change. You keep track of this information in your journal.   Can you honour your family legacy and make the air we breathe breathable again?

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Excerpt from a research paper in progress: Collaborative video game design provides a meaningful way for students to develop narratives around issues that impact them.  Framing social justice issues through game design provides a structure composed of if/than statements and win and lose conditions around which students develop characters and a story.  Though games can run the risk of oversimplifying complex issues, considering them through the game design structure is also useful.  It imposes constraints that lead to understanding the game world in terms of impact and effect – if pacman runs into a ghost, pacman loses a life.  If you take this if/then structure, central to all video game design, and place it within the context of The air we breathe (AoW, 2020), the power of this structure becomes more evident:  if the player plants seeds trees grow than the air becomes less toxic with CO2s.  If/then statements, when connected with real-world information, can reinforce the idea that our actions in the world matter in the sense that they have an affect/effect and impact.  We as individuals and collectively have an impact on the world and others.  One can choose to effect/affect the world in positive ways, both in terms of actions and emotions.  Understanding this is imperative to social justice.