Climate change is not a game, but The Climate Reality Project is trying to turn it into one.
In "Reality Drop," the soon-to-launch social media game, players earn points by participating in online conversations about climate change and "dropping reality" on climate change deniers. Retweets, shares, likes, and comments on the project’s climate facts, or reality drops, earn players additional points and help them unlock new levels, improve rank, and win badges.
It’s a playful approach to a deadly serious and very timely issue. Following Hurricane Sandy, it’s become increasingly evident that climate change has become more of a harsh reality than an inconvenient truth.
"The reality is clear: Climate change is happening now, and impacting billions of people around the world," says Maggie L. Fox, CEO of The Climate Reality Project, founded and chaired by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Of course, these days, reality can be subjective when it comes to climate change, which is refuted by what Fox calls "well-funded denier campaigns" sponsored by oil and coal companies.
Looking for an innovative way to dispel myths and spread science about climate change, Gore, Fox and their colleagues at The Climate Reality Project turned to agency Arnold Worldwide. Pete Favat, Arnold Worldwide’s chief creative officer, had attracted Gore’s attention because of his cause-related work for the Truth Campaign, the hugely successful national anti-tobacco program.
Rather than relying on a traditional advertising campaign to influence the climate change discussion, Favat says he and his team decided instead to "make an engaging product that people could use to defend real science."
The product, "Reality Drop," relies on sophisticated algorithms to highlight "hot" climate change stories and provide simple rebuttals to the most common climate change myths.
"We needed to figure out ways to make it easy for people to engage in the cause without having to give up too much time or money," says Favat. "We decided to create a way to "drop" real facts backed by real science into conversations."
Armed with this set of facts, "Reality Drop" users have the option of either sharing them via their social networks and/or "dropping" them into online debates and discussion boards about climate change.
Users win points for sharing facts and eventually climb up the ranks of the game and earn Foursquare-like badges such as "Carbon Crusher," "Shining Beacon," and "Order of the Green Circle."
Initial information on the game will be officially unveiled on November 14th during "24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report," a 24-hour event broadcast live on the Internet, culminating in a presentation by Gore on November 15th at 7 p.m. EST.
Without any advertising budget, Reality Drop will rely strictly on word-of-mouth to gain traction and influence the climate change discussion. "Success will be measured by the amount of people who are posting and the number of people involved," says Favat. "People inherently want to be on the right side here."