Gaming Climate Change: Challenges and More Challenges w/ Ed McGrady


About this event
Climate change games are often a welcome break from our natural focus on games of war and destruction. However they present significant challenges to the aspiring designer. These challenges can be divided into those of mechanics, science, and culture. But, wait, a lot of these challenges may not be what you expect! The challenge with mechanics is being able to represent in the game everything you need to represent in order to allow the players to address climate issues. It’s a lot. The challenge with science is not that you do not have it, rather its the large abundance of science you do have, your ability to distill it down into something manageable, and the need to get disparate climate change experts to agree on something. Finally, the culture of climate change advocacy, politics, and processes does have a huge impact on your ability to design the game. But not because of climate deniers, rather the culture of the climate science and response community can itself present challenges. This can even extend to your own workforce. All of these challenges can be overcome, but for those of us seeking to build simulation games, vice “toy” or “educational” games, these challenges can present a big barrier to successful climate change game design. This talk will discuss each of these issues, from the perspective of someone who has had to address them, and overcome them (sometimes surrender to them), in multiple climate simulation games. When possible I will offer solutions, at least solutions I have found useful.

Dr. ED McGrady, Principal, MonksHood Media LLC, Senior Adjunct at CNAS

Dr. McGrady writes, speaks, and teaches on the design of professional games. He is an adjunct senior fellow in gaming at CNAS, teaches and manages game design courses for MORS/Virginia Tech, and runs a business devoted to using games and game techniques to bring innovative experiences in new areas. His recent book, Roll to Save: Gaming Disease Response, describes designing games in support of public health professionals. In the past Dr. McGrady built and directed a team of 10-20 analysts at CNA devoted to the design and execution of professional games. Dr. McGrady has deployed as an analyst with US Forces in Haiti during operation Uphold Democracy, onboard USS Nimitz for Desert Storm and with operational E-2C squadrons. Dr. McGrady holds a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. He has published extensively and is widely cited for his work on the mathematics of aggregation and fragmentation.


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