Climate change is an increasingly urgent threat to our future, but it can be difficult to talk about. University Libraries are looking to facilitate these vital climate conversations with its new series, Gaming for Global Change, in which library staff visit Twitch once a month to live stream a different game focused on the climate. climate change.
The series is an extension of Wicked Problems, Wolfpack Solutions, an online course for incoming freshmen and transfer students that encourages multidisciplinary exploration and provides a connection to the community in the state of North Carolina. Karen Ciccone, Head of University Libraries Data and Visualization Department, explained that Gaming for Global Change was born out of a desire to involve students more in this year’s course topic, Global Change.
“We were looking for ways to involve students in global change, which can be a somewhat difficult subject to broach,” said Ciccone. “We believe that games, through fictional scenarios, are a great way to think through difficult problems. They are a great way to see the world from other perspectives, even other species, and to try to understand how they are feeling the effects of climate change.
Each game will focus on a different facet of the unique challenges of climate change. To help navigate these topics, university libraries plan to include special guests to help answer questions and guide conversations on the topics of the games.
In its first iteration, university libraries have teamed up with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to try out “Bee Simulator,” a game played from a bee’s perspective as it collects pollen and protects its beehive in a park. urban.
Colin Brammer, a museum biologist, joined library staff to talk about all things bee-related as they played. Throughout the stream, viewers were able to comment and ask questions. A recording of the feed is posted on the University Libraries YouTube channel.
Claire Cahoon, Member of the State Libraries of North Carolina, and Colin Nickels, Experiential Learning Services Librarian, work together as Senior Project Managers for the Twitch Channel. They both thought the first stream was a success.
“It was great fun having this kind of conversation with a bee expert while playing a game that was supposed to represent a bee’s point of view,” Nickels said. “I think it’s allowed people to step out of their own headspace when talking about green in ways that they can’t otherwise.”
A key part of these streams, according to Cahoon, is the interaction with viewers.
“We were really excited to see a bunch of people in the chat having conversations and asking questions,” Cahoon said. “I think one of the real benefits of doing this live on Twitch is that you can stop and ask someone who’s experienced the game but also someone who’s an expert.”
The series will have three more airs throughout the fall semester, starting October 8 with the game “Never Alone: Foxtales,” which was developed in collaboration with the Native community of Inupiat in Alaska and follows a young girl named Luna and her fox as they explore the arctic on a trip to save a friend.
“Climate change is dramatically affecting people and wildlife in the Arctic,” Ciccone said. “So that comes in as an underlying force in the game.”
On November 12, Vicky Thayer, faculty member at the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology, will join library staff to play “Beyond Blue.” In this game, players pilot a deep sea explorer to learn about ocean conservation and marine life.
As part of the University Libraries Relaxation Stream series during Exam Week, staff will be playing “Civilization VI: The Gathering Storm” on December 3. Players will explore how climate change due to the use of energy resources has direct effects on civilization.
The series is expected to continue throughout the spring semester. In January, staff members will air a role-play about the extreme heat in North Carolina from the Museum of Life and Science in Durham.
The series demonstrates the possibility of accessible and even fun education on serious and pressing topics. Library staff hope this will be a way to continue conversations about climate change.
“What’s most exciting is having this chance to bring people together to have conversations that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” said Nickels.