Grim climate change projections had made the topic intimidating for Alix Dvorak, a Lowry Hill consultant, and Adam Lupu, a business partner who lives in Tennessee.
“Climate change to me had always been something to avoid because it was too much doom and gloom [and] too much focus on [the] problem,” Lupu said.
But this year, Lupu and Dvorak said they may have found a way to make the topic more accessible and hopefully spur people into action. They’ve created a card game called “Green House” in which players figuratively try to remove greenhouse gas from the atmo-sphere through carbon-reducing actions, such as planting trees.
They said they hope the game gives players ideas of ways they can work together on climate change before it’s too late.
“We do have a path to victory,” Dvorak said, “but only if we actually play the solution.”
Green House has its roots in Dvorak’s environmental advocacy. After leaving her job at Cargill in 2016, Dvorak started reading up on climate change, attending conferences, participating in trainings and helping climate-change organizations like Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.
“When I found solutions, I got really unblocked around climate change,” she said. “I got really excited about getting involved and seeing what we can build going forward.”
Meanwhile, Dvorak connected with Lupu in April 2018 at a conference in St. Paul, and the duo decided to continue working together after completing a project in early 2019.
Lupu, a former earth science teacher who has a master’s degree in learning sciences and creates games in his spare time, suggested that they make a climate-related game.
He said games allow for teamwork and can help train people to respond to specific situations.
“The next time they see something in the news, because they have played the game, the automatic response is now in there,” he said.
Dvorak and Lupu started with a two-player format, but they eventually settled on a multi-player game in which players work together toward eliminating emissions.
Players must respond to climate change-related events like hurricanes and wildfires by reducing emissions through actions like eating a plant-rich diet or making fuel from algae. They win by clearing all of the greenhouse gas tokens from the game. They lose if they run out of money or hope, both of which are measured in tokens, or they pollute the atmosphere too much or run out of time.
Players can learn more about potential greenhouse gas-reducing actions and the organizations connected to them through QR codes on the cards.
Lupu and Dvorak said they hope the game will help people realize that there is a chance to limit global warming below levels that scientists say could have the most dire consequences.
They said they envision the game being played in schools and congregations. Lupu said a dream would be to get an internationally recognized climate influencer like Al Gore or Greta Thunberg to play the online version they are developing.
Green House was developed with the help of designers and consultants spread across the U.S. and Africa. A Kickstarter campaign to cover the first round of printing has raised over $15,000.
Learn more at tinyurl.com/greenhousegame.