Climate change anxiety is real, and it can cause feelings of powerlessness, or even apathy. While it is true that no soggy straws in the world will help as long as billion-dollar industries keep indiscriminately pumping oil out of the ground, it is also false to believe that our individual efforts do not matter.
In a new game published last week, called The Time is Now: Toolkit for Change, the creators have taken to a good old low-tech tabletop approach to make people think about how, for instance, their relationship with technology can have a more positive impact on the environment.
The idea is to gather a group of people — colleagues, friends or family — and to generate ideas and solutions, from an individual to a societal level, to what is undoubtedly one of the greatest generational challenges of our time. (Note: one of the game’s originators, Niels Sipkema, is the Director of TNW Programs, which is how we got our hands on a pre-release edition.)
Based on six of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the cards of the game present questions or problems involving an environmental component to be read out loud by one player. The others then pitch their solutions to the problem described on the card.
The reader then picks a winner, who places the card on an “action canvas” along vectors of what can be accomplished by ourselves (cycling to work), what can begin tomorrow, (say, choosing a sustainable caterer for your company event), what needs some more time and planning (investing in carbon removal startups), and what can be done with some help (solar panels on the roof of your building).
If you cannot think of anything technologically groundbreaking, the prompt from the game’s creators reads: “If you can’t be serious, be funny, blunt, green, or smart.” The TNW test group found themselves being all of those things — to varying degrees, depending on who you ask — during a runthrough of the game.
The actions we take is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in
We may not all be quantum engineers that can develop the new clean fusion fuel of the future, but we can all make informed decisions and conscious choices in our relationship to the planet. (After learning about the carbon cost of digital clutter, at least one of the players rushed to delete a few thousand photos of their cat from the cloud.)
Every action we take — what we choose to consume, how we choose to travel, and where we choose to invest — is a vote cast for the kind of world we want to live in. Pointing a finger and saying “but they don’t, so why should I,” simply isn’t good enough.
But when choices regarding our habits are presented with an added appendage of guilt, or a serving of shame on the side, they become harder to maintain. Just look at yo-yo dieting.
However, when introduced with a sense of agency coupled with positive reinforcement (for instance, such as winning a pitch), we are much more likely to stick to the habits we are trying to build.
In either case, we have to have the, sometimes terribly inconvenient, conversations — for the sake of future generations. The Time is Now: Toolkit for Change is an effective approach to that end.
The Time is Now: Toolkit for Change is created by Gerard Drost, Niels Sipkema, Johannes van der Erenbeemt, and Bjorn Uyens, a team that also made The Startup Game. It is published by BISPublishers and available here.