"You are the senior editor of the world’s most popular and trusted news organisation. You have the enviable power to set the news agenda, and thereby shift the zeitgeist.” These are the opening lines of the new climate-fiction game (yes, you heard that right), Save the Century. If you are yet not hooked by this impressive opening, linger for a few seconds more in this parallel universe, and we assure you, it is a world you would not want to leave in a hurry. Sample this:
It is the year 2050, global warming has peaked, meals have been cut down to nutritional food packs, and of course, zoonotic viruses are on the prowl. And as the editor of an influential newspaper—or the player, so to speak—it is up to you to shape public opinion and champion a better world.
Created by bestselling author Sam Beckbessinger (Manage Your Money Like a F*cking Grownup) in collaboration with renowned climate scientists Christopher Trisos and Simon Nicholson, the game works towards ensuring an equitable, green future, through role-play. Beckbessinger says, “Survive the Century was born out of my hopelessness. I wanted to explore a way in which our choices still matter and it’s not all over yet.”
The player as the all-powerful editor gets to choose what news to highlight and this will have an overall impact on the environment. For example, for each right or wrong decision, the temperature of the planet will rise or fall; conflicts will die down or multiply, etc. And the best part? The game is based on solid climate science and research on shared socio-economic pathways.
Trisos and Nicholson, climate researchers at the University of Cape Town and American University, respectively, met at a workshop two years ago. One idea led to another and they conceived the game, bringing together people from different backgrounds from around the world to aid with the scientific research and storyboarding that would help shape the plots. Nicholson says, “Climate change is no longer a distant environmental matter.
How the future plays out will be determined by the choices we make today, and that is what the game is about.” The game acts as a looking glass into the future, showing people what awaits them if necessary steps are not taken on time. Trisos says, “Stories like these filled with potential pathways to the future—and based on science—are essential. They give us a peek into what it will be like to make choices about adapting to climate change (or not).”
With great power comes great responsibility, is the game’s motto. It is smart, even tragic at times, while offering an important lesson. Using it as part of the curriculum could make learning about the environment fun and keep kids informed about pertinent issues: Would you share vaccine technology? Would you stand for carbon reduction and emission cuts? Or, would you focus on profits? The choice is all a click away.
Writers who contributed
Lauren Beukes Award-winning and internationally bestselling South African author of The Shining Girls, Zoo City and Afterland, among other works
Sophia Al Maria A Qatari-American artist, writer, and filmmaker. Her work has been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennale, the New Museum in New York, and the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London.
Rajat Chaudhuri A bilingual author, environment columnist and climate activist. His biopunk novel, The Butterfly Effect, was twice listed by Book Riot as a ‘Fifty must-read eco-disasters in fiction’ and among ‘Ten works of environmental literature from around
Maria Turtschaninoff A Finnish writer known for crafting lyrical, historically inspired fantasy stories, she is the author of the much-acclaimed Red Abbey Chronicles.
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