Using Online Games to Engage in Sustainability – An Update (Part 3 of 3)

Back in 2012 I put together a three post special on online games that focus on raising awareness on different sustainability topics. To this day these are some of the most popular posts ever on PRiMEtime. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting a series of articles with an updated summary of online games that aim to raise awareness about sustainability topics that can be used in the classroom or by students individually interested in these issues. I will also be covering a range of apps that allow students to engage, in real time, in sustainability issues locally or even globally. All of these resources are organised based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Click here to read Part 1 (SDG 1-6) and Part 2 (SDG 7 -12).

Do you use any other games in your classroom? Send them and I will update the list.

SDG13Climate Change

Habitat the Game is designed to educate players about the effects that climate change will have on different species around the world while also encouraging players to examine how their own behaviours and ecological footprint will impact the planet. It was developed by Sydney University, The Rainforest Alliance and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Climate Challenge is a game aimed at young professionals based on real climate change data where players can try out different approaches for themselves and learn about the issues. It was developed by the Oxford University Centre for the Environment and scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The player takes on the role of the President of Europe, choosing policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from 2000 to 2100. The player has to balance emissions reduction while making sure there is enough electricity, water and food for people, whilst also managing their spending and popularity with the electorate.

EnviroMan, developed by Novo Nordisk, looks at climate change and how to strike the right balance between economy and environment.

World Climate is a group role-playing simulation of the international climate change negotiations. The exercise provides participants the chance to explore the risks of climate change and the challenges of negotiating international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Participants play negotiators representing countries and regional blocs that work to create an agreement that limited climate change.


Ice Flows, developed by the University of Exeter, the National Environment Research Council and the British Antarctic Survey is a game which tasks players with controlling the size of the ice sheet in order to get penguins to their desired destination. The climate changes, whether that means decreasing snowfall or increasing ocean temperatures, make it harder (or easier) for the penguins to catch fish, and thrive in their environment.

The Fish Game gives players 10 days to catch as many fish as they can to support their family. Several other version of the game exists which change the rules slightly. The object of the game is to have as many fish as possible by the end of the game while still keeping the fish population healthy.

Fishbanks is a multiplayer web based simulation in which participants play the role of fishers and seek to maximise their net worth as they compete against other players and deal with variations in fish stocks and their catch. Participants buy, sell, and build ships, decide where to fish and negotiate with one another.

Tragedy of the Tuna aims to educate students about the concept of the “tragedy of the commons.” In this game, each student or group of students represent a county in control of a tuna fishing fleet and makes decisions about fleet size and deployment. As the game progresses, teams vie to stay afloat as the competition for the shared fish population becomes more intense.

Marine Debris Tracker lets anyone track and report marine litter from anywhere in the world on a mobile phone, helping beach clean-up efforts and protecting our oceans. Data is easy to upload and can be downloaded in excel for analysis.


Climate Game is an interactive online game that sets you on a quest to settle on an uninhabited island covered by green trees and thick forests. You can harvest, use and plant trees, manage your income to develop island infrastructure. But, beware of the consequences of your action.

About That Forest is a web-based role playing simulation that takes place in a forest and the community that lives in it. Participants take the role of the people living in the forest and need to manage it sustainably.

Forest Cover Analyzer, created by the World Resource Institute, enables users to assess forest cover change and risks related to sustainable palm oil production in areas of Indonesia. Another app, the Suitability Mapper, enables users to identify potentially suitable sites for sustainable palm oil production.

Global Forest Watch provides global maps and data for tree cover gain and loss.

The Good Fish Guide is an app that provides in depth information on how sustainable different types of fish are. Similar apps have been developed in other regions of the world including Australia.

International BarCode of Life is the largest biodiversity genomics initiative ever undertaken aimed at cataloguing all species on the planet.

ESRI is a detailed map of the world that defines bio climate, landform, geology and land cover information. It was created by the US Geological Survey and includes climate change data.


Syrian Journey, developed by the BBC, is a digital product that explores the exodus of the Syrian people. The project aims to bring audience awareness of the plight of Syrian refugees.

Endgame: Syria is a game that examines the complexities of the Syrian civil war. Played from the perspective of the Syrian rebels, players must balance the in game currencies of morale and support against the costs of fighting in the war and decide when and if the time is right to accept a peace treaty.

Darful is Dying is a narrative-based simulation that puts you in the shoes of a displaced Darfurian refugee. The game is based on 2006 statistics and data.

PeaceMaker, developed at Carnegie Mellon, challenges players to establish peace in the Middle East. Players can take the perspective of the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian President and react to unpredictable real-world events. The ultimate goal is to create virtual peace and be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.



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