While there is still a surprising amount of debate revolving around the causes and effects of climate change, one thing everyone can agree on is that there needs to be more emphasis on environmental awareness. One of the best ways to get both ourselves, our peers and younger generations to start thinking about climate change and the environment on a global scale is though…you guessed it…board games!
Here are five great board games for a variety of age groups so whether you’re looking to buy a new game for your weekly game night or taking a more educational approach for your kids, there’s something here for you.
Photosynthesis is a beautifully developed game set in a burgeoning forest and designed for 2 to 4 players 8 and up. As the name implies, the goal of the game is to grow trees all the way from tiny seeds to maturity. Along the way, players collect light points and attempt to cast shadows on their opponent’s trees to slow them down. When a tree completes its life cycle, points are awarded by the richness of the soil the tree was planted in. All the while, the Sun rotates around the edge of the board helping to create a dynamic game environment and allows players to generate light points which can be spent on buying more seeds or trees as they see fit.
The game ends after 18 rounds when the sun has completed 3 revolutions around the board. Once players have mastered the basics, feel free to add some advanced game mechanics such as not being able to plant a seed in the shadow of another tree. This game is a great thought starter on the time it takes for a healthy forest to mature and grow.
This game is made 2 to 4 players ages 8 and up though in our experience it really shines with 4 people playing. In the game Planet, each player is given a planet core that is bereft of life or any real terrain…but not for long! As the game proceeds, players choose landscape tiles such as mountain ranges, deserts, forests and frozen tundras. Each player is looking to create a diverse global ecosystem and fulfill requirements to gain animal cards.
Planet is a 2019 Mensa Select board game-winner and helps to highlight the importance of maintaining a diverse and healthy environment to support the vast and wildly varying forms of life we know of here on Earth.
The Spill is a co-operative game where 1 to 4 players (that’s right, you can go it alone!) try to contain an oil spill from an offshore oil rig. Your objectives are to contain oil flowing from the rig, remove oil from the water and rescue marine animals before it’s too late. Belching out crude is the oil rig, a four-sided dice tower that drops “oil” dice randomly on the board.
The Spill plays out like a reverse tower defense game where players move around the perimeter of the board trying to contain and push and remove oil tokens while trying to stave off calamity and destruction. Each player card features their own unique abilities and cooperation between players and their abilities is a definite must if you hope to be successful.
One of the most frustrating and saddest causes of environmental damage are man-made catastrophes like oil spills. It’s estimated that nearly 85% of the 29 million gallons of petroleum entering North American waters is the direct cause of human activity. Oil spills often have long-lasting effects that are devastating to all types of ocean life. This game is an important awareness tool in helping bring to light the harm oil spills cause to our planet.
Claim & Save
Claim and Save is a game that not only helps to build strategy and spatial thinking skills but also highlights endangered animals and the importance of preserving habitats. This game is made for 2 to 4 players and ages 6 and up which makes it a great early starter to get kids thinking about the environment.
The game plays out with each player trying to “claim” territory on the board for different types of endangered animals. Players who create four-sided hedges can then place an endangered animal within the square and receive points based on the “threatened” level of the animal.
This is a simple game to master and teaches the importance of wildlife preservation. Because everyone is working towards the same goal of saving animals, you could view this game as almost cooperative. While there will be a highest points winner at the end of each game, everyone who saved an animal will have something to feel good about.
Polar Eclipse is a game dealing directly with global warming and climate change. Designed for 2 to 4 players ages 8 and up, each player chooses an animal species to try and protect against a warming climate. The game board itself is a large grid with one axis keeping track of game rounds and the other axis tracking climate temperature.
A cool feature of the game (pun intended) is the inclusion of “Arctic Cards”. These cards ask open-ended questions such as, “Old computers are piling up. What should we do with them?”. These cards do not contain a right or wrong answer and are meant to get kids and adults thinking and talking about issues that are negatively impacting the environment at large.
Developed by Lori McDonald, this game is meant to take a big issue and deliver it in casual, bite-size amounts. “People walk away with ideas and knowledge they did not have before,” McDonald said in an interview with Parkrecord.com.