How can Gamification help to increase climate engagement?
Why do we need more climate engagement?
In the past few years, climate change has become a more prominent public issue and a new movement highlighting the climate emergency has emerged. Despite this, politicians still often lack a clear sense of the wider public’s view, also known as a public mandate, on climate action, especially from those who don’t typically engage in debates around climate issues.
Educating and engaging the public on a complex issue such as climate change is a challenge. Discrepancies remain between the public, policymakers and scientists’ view on how climate change should be tackled. Consequently, there is a gap between the scientific consensus on climate change, which clearly states that urgent action is needed, and the social consensus which seems to be conflicted, with some advocating for urgent action while others have not yet engaged in the conversation around climate change. There is a need to bridge this gap in order to establish and understand the broader public mandate for action.
Making progress on climate change requires new methods to increase public engagement on climate change, also known as civic engagement. Civic engagement is the ability of people to acquire and process information, as well as to voice and debate their opinions and beliefs in order to take action.
Strong civic engagement can:
- Provide leaders with a forum for discussion, planning and an action plan to tackle climate change.5
- Improve the quality and legitimacy of the decision making process by building the capacity of all involved to engage in the policy process.
- Incentivise behavioural changes of those who are engaged.
- Lead to better results in terms of environmental quality and social objectives, whilst enhancing trust and understanding among parties.
What is gamification?
Gamification is the application of gaming techniques to non-gaming environments. Gamification has many benefits. It encourages engagement and participation in activities or behaviours which may otherwise seem boring or tedious, and makes them more fun.
Gaming techniques use reward mechanisms – such as achievement badges and points systems – to encourage the user to engage and remain engaged with a platform, activity or behaviour. The use of gamification has been shown to motivate a number of positive behaviours and outcomes in participants – including improving learning and behaviour, enhancing engagement and increasing topic awareness.
Gamification also supplies the maker of the game with quality data which they may otherwise have found difficult to gather, as users may be more likely to play a game than participate in traditional forms of data gathering such as surveys or interviews. By placing participants in real-life scenarios, gamification can also provide more accurate data on how people may act in real life.
How can gamification help increase climate engagement?
Gamification is seen as a strategy that can increase understanding of climate issues and can positively engage people in behavioural change by engrossing players and placing them in climate-centred scenarios.
“Gamified Activism” can be described as the use of digital applications or websites designed for the purpose of raising awareness on climate-change related issues and increasing engagement of citizens. This is often achieved through “awareness-raising games” which provide players with the opportunity to learn about social or environmental problems. Games provide experiences where players can learn through doing and being, rather than simply absorbing information from readings and traditional lecture formats. Thus, through friendly and captivating designs and the use of digital platforms, gamified strategies are a tool which could potentially enhance citizens’ support of climate change and what can be done to tackle it. They can also motivate people to get involved in climate action who may not otherwise have done so. More recently games have also been used to create a process that encourages people to take concrete action by stimulating interest and nurturing participation, showing that they can also incentivise positive behavioural changes.
Overall, gamification offers an easy and potentially highly productive way of engaging audiences on climate change and encouraging pro-environmental behaviour change, which the People’s Plan aims to utilise.
How are The People's Plan using gamification?
The People’s Plan has developed a gamified platform on climate change. The gamified platform’s main purpose is to engage users in the climate conversation and encourage interaction with their local councils. It aims to do this through:
- Incorporating aspects of education to both inform players and encourage them to adopt sustainable actions and behaviours in their own lives.
- Increased engagement by creating a more fun experience which is varied, interactive and place participants in climate-centred real life scenarios. Different types of games are played for each of the seven climate-related themes covered, such as transport, clean energy and house retrofitting.
- The use of badges as positive feedback to make players feel accomplished and encourage them to continue playing.
- Providing verbal feedback informing the player why their choice was a good one and how it can contribute to solving the climate crisis.
- Providing data from a wide range of the population for councils.
Overall, gamification is a valuable tool which can help to increase engagement with climate change issues by creating a more fun and interactive experience for participants, encouraging them to participate and play the game while allowing valuable data on their preferences to be gathered. Gamified platforms can also further inform participants and encourage positive behavioural change. Therefore, The People’s Plan’s gamified platform aims to utilise these potential benefits to increase public engagement with their councils on climate change.
If you want to more about Gamification and how The People’s Plan is utilising it, see our research report here: https://peoplesplan.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Use-of-Gamificaiton-in-Climate-Engagement-_-Final.pdf
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