Five Ways to Game Global Warming

These online ecofantasies put the fun back into saving the planet.

Image: Courtesy Electronic Arts

The ultrahyped Spore isn’t the only game where global warming is part of the virtual landscape.

SimCity Societies
(Electronic Arts with BP)
the goal: Evolve from farm to megacity, using BP’s “alternative energy” module to avert climate disasters.
cool factor: Punish carbon-heavy cities with Transformerslike robots.

Planet Green Game
(Starbucks with Global Green USA)
the goal: Bike through town, “greening” public spaces, learning about real-life projects as you go.
cool factor: Soothing indie-rock soundtrack steals focus from pedantic quizzes.

Planet Slayer
(Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
the goal: As Greena the Worrier Princess, you save the planet from flocks of airborne shopping bags, winning…a hug from a koala.
cool factor: Cloying teen-girl color scheme triggers a Pavlovian aversion to excess packaging.

Michael, Michael, Go Recycle!
(parenting community
the goal: Pick up cans and garbage, Pac-Man style. Bump into “litterbugs” to make green leaves come out of their heads.
cool factor: Kids will see right through this virtual chore.

Climate Challenge
(British Broadcasting Corporation)
the goal: Balance progress and popularity to stay in office from 1990 to 2080: Save Europe’s environment; win votes by hosting the Olympics again and again.
cool factor: Playing power-crazed politician is addictive.