Game changer

Delegates at December’s key United Nations global climate change negotiations in Poland were invited to play a computer game developed by our third-year students.

The game, Earth Remembers, models scenarios of climate change “tipping points” and their impact on Earth, from the manageable to the catastrophic. And while it’s entertaining, the software realistically challenges players to negotiate climate scenarios and government budget decisions that can have positive or negative results for the planet.

The game sees 30 players control 10 negotiation alliances, all of which must agree on the extent of their commitment to climate mitigation, green technology and the international climate fund. The results of the players’ decisions are then simulated to illustrate what they would cause in the ensuing decades - demonstrating the effects of their choices on global temperatures and tipping points.

Earth Remembers - developed by School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment students in partnership with Purdue and Utrecht universities - was successfully trialled at a UN climate change convention in Bonn earlier in 2018, where it helped negotiators to understand climate events and evaluate policies to mitigate the worst climate change outcomes.

Lecturer David Farrell said: “The models used in the game are the same as those used by UN climate scientists. At one point, while playing the game, there was a moment when some of the national negotiators triggered the tipping point when the West Antarctic ice sheet starts to melt, potentially raising sea levels by two metres. There was an audible gasp as they realised what was happening because of their decisions.

“Players witness the impact of decisions for themselves. Earth Remembers makes it a living experience.”

Student Dylan Nichol was lead programmer on the project. He said: “Working on Earth Remembers has definitely been one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences I have ever faced. This experience has totally redefined my passion for software development and I now feel ready to tackle whatever may lie ahead.”