Welsh scientists and video game developers unite to communicate climate change

Scientists at Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Sciences have teamed up with interdisciplinary researchers from across Wales to launch Climate Jam 18, an initiative which will utilise the expertise of video game developers to communicate climate science to the public in an accessible way

Psychologist Dr Claire Williams and Computer Scientist Dr Sean Walton are leading the Swansea side of the project which also involves Bangor and Cardiff universities.

 Dr Williams explained: “Evidence suggests that current methods of communicating climate science are ineffective.  For example, national surveys in the US consistently find that the majority of Americans believe global warming is happening (63%), but far fewer believe that it is caused mostly by humans (49%) and many believe there is widespread disagreement amongst climate change scientists (33%).  Long term records also indicate there has been little change in public opinion about climate change for a number of years.”

Dr Walton added:As well as altering climate and weather patterns, the global and regional impacts of climate change are increasingly driving global politics, socioeconomics, food and water security, and population migration.

However, due to the complexity of the science, the general public have a poor understanding of key issues surrounding climate change and the impact individual behavioural changes could have on the future of the climate system.” 

In response to this, the Swansea, Cardiff and Bangor teams are carrying out an interdisciplinary arts-science project in the form of a ‘game jam’, where video game developers from across Wales and beyond will develop a series of prototype interactive computer games to communicate the complexities of climate change to the wider public, and identify mechanisms that may enhance understanding and change attitudes towards climate change.  This will be guided by a science pack produced by the interdisciplinary university group who will also judge the scientific accuracy of the games.  Members of the public who play the games will be asked to vote for their favourite based on how enjoyable they found them and their educational value.

Dr Williams said “This is a really exciting project drawing on university expertise from across Wales to create interactive and fun games to teach people about climate change.  We will also be looking to support some of the game developers following the game jam to apply for science communication funding to turn their work into something much bigger.”

Read more about the project and to sign-up to Climate Jam 18.

This work is supported by The Welsh Crucible, Swansea University, Bangor University, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, the Natural Environment Research Council, and the Sêr Cymru II programme.