“Rising Tides” — Making a Board Game About Climate Change

During a 48 hour hackathon, we made a water-based board game to teach people about climate change and the Green New Deal. Here’s what we did, how we did it, and what the process was like. But first, here’s a trailer for the game that we literally made in the last 30 min of the hackathon:

Sonia Kandah
May 18, 2019 · 10 min read

Game Jams are not everyone’s jam. Creating something under such a short time constraint is at its core unhealthy, taxing and downright unapproachable for many people.

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Daniel Rother, one of the lead organizers for the game jam, during the opening speeches

What if there was a board game with real physical water, that actually showed how rising sea levels might affect the United States?

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I spy with my little eye…a pair of indie game devs looking pensive
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Look at this lovely crew! From left to right: Kira, Laura, Zoey, Sonia, Jesse and Mike
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We wanted to show that no matter which part of the U.S. you were in, climate change would affect you, and probably in ways you didn’t expect.

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Real cities with representative elevations — players literally start the game by building up the United States
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Some people think “oh, I can just move away if my neighborhood gets too hot”, but that is neither realistic to expect on a planetary level, nor is that an actual solution; you can’t move away from the planet, the environment, the air, or the systems that depend upon these being stable.

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Climate change can cause a lot of different problems, and we wanted to capture that reality in “Rising Tides”

Rising sea levels was a tangible way for players to start thinking about how their country would physically change with climate change. Then, when further effects were introduced via gameplay, players could understand the domino effect that would transform the country.

Working together to pass Green New Deal initiatives makes the game easier — a direct parallel to how these initiatives would make our real-world future brighter

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By letting the players choose a subset of the Green New Deal initiatives to pass, we encouraged a dialogue between the players about which initiatives were more important or more achievable.

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Game devs hard at work
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“Rising Tides” won “Best Aesthetic” at the game jam, and with the work we put into the material production of the game, it felt great.

Just Us Games Studio

Just Us Games Studio is a two-person game studio based in…

Sonia Kandah

Written by

Artist, Designer, Illustrator — — soniakandah.com

Just Us Games Studio

Just Us Games Studio is a two-person game studio based in Seattle. Here is where they post their blog entries, retrospectives and more about their ongoing projects

Sonia Kandah

Written by

Artist, Designer, Illustrator — — soniakandah.com

Just Us Games Studio

Just Us Games Studio is a two-person game studio based in Seattle. Here is where they post their blog entries, retrospectives and more about their ongoing projects

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