An Emirati games designer has teamed up with Masdar to produce a board game that teaches players about climate change.
Mohamed Al Qadi’s new game, One Earth, places the fate of the world at stake, challenging up to four players to balance their own interests with those of the planet.
Each player acts as a country, and must introduce climate policies and new technologies to curb global warming associated with their building projects. The game is being launched on Kickstarter over the summer and is expected to be released for general sale towards the end of the year.
Mr Al Qadi, who previously designed the Conqueror: Final Conquest board game, which went on sale in early 2020, developed the new idea “dead smack in the middle of Covid".
“One of my degrees is in economics. I love economics,” said Mr Al Qadi.
“And one of the concepts I found fascinating was shared resources.
"If there is an entire village and each person has cows and so forth, and there is only one field available for people to use for grazing, there is this thing called tragedy of the commons."
If you have a grazing field that everyone can use, there is no incentive for every single person to take care of it, he said.
“Everyone wants to feed their cows and what ends up happening is the overexploitation of that field. You see it in so many different concepts in life and nothing is more true than climate change.”
He decided to create a game around the challenge, devising a working prototype before contacting Masdar to check its interest.
“I showed them the Conqueror: Final Conquest box and said, this is the final quality you are going to get, so ignore the horrible prototype but this is what I am pitching. This is the concept,” he said.
“I met their chief executive back then and said I have this concept and I have this idea and he said, 'OK that’s actually very interesting'.”
They hashed out some of the concepts and features, including a QR code on the box that takes you to the One Earth game website, which has educational content.
He hopes that one day it will be used as a resource in schools. Several have shown an interest in using it. But the ultimate goal is for it to become part of the curriculum in Abu Dhabi, as a way to teach the complicated topic.
“It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to play, so it’s ideal for a classroom setting and then after you can talk about the outcomes,” said Mr Al Qadi, an Oxford University graduate.
Players work against each other as different countries and must be the first to reach a certain level or prosperity in order to win.
“But at the same time, while you are building projects that build your prosperity, these projects are also releasing greenhouse gas emissions," he said.
"If you build a coal mine it’s a disaster. That is a shared resource, a greenhouse gas emission. And if it goes up to a certain level, everyone loses. The earth is not going to be habitable in the way we would like it to be.
“So this is exactly like real life.”