How games can simulate climate change

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Game for change the boss Susanna Pollack participated in Dreamscape Globalby founder Sheridan Tatsuno to talk about how games can simulate climate change as part of the GamesBeat Summit.

Tatsuno has a pretty impressive and relevant resume. He is a writer, an urban planner. He’s heavily involved in the tech sector. For half a decade, he’s worked on world-building cities with a focus on climate action. He has been dealing with the effects of climate change for decades.

For Tatsuno, gaming as an industry is not nearly as important. The games industry, for the spaces he works in, is pretty small.

“Video games are a big industry, but it’s very bland. It’s just, what, a few hundred billion dollars?” Tatsuno started. “Let’s achieve the AEC; Architecture, Engineering and Construction. It’s the biggest industry in the world. That’s 10% of global trade. About eleven trillion dollars a year.”


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But gaming can intersect with the AEC in some interesting ways. About 30 years ago, much of the AEC’s work was done through trial and error. Closer to the present, it started using simulators to simulate potential builds. However, the trick is that it can only simulate individual buildings and multiple external effects on those buildings.

However, thanks to gaming, the simulations are much more powerful. The AEC simulation is not just single buildings but entire city blocks. Or an entire city. Those simulations can help uncover potential problems before a hammer is hammered into a nail.

Gamers are important

What about gamers? Gamers are the next generation of simulation builders. The skills and knowledge that gamers passively acquire can directly translate into working in the AEC sectors, thereby directly impacting climate change decisions. Targeting and reflexing skills don’t learn much from spending time in a shooter, but building and visualization skills.

A gamer learning to create in Unreal Engine or Unity is well-equipped to enter a climate-focused career. It’s all tied together by the VR industry. For gamers looking to make an impact, that’s the place to put their feet in the door.

“If I were a gamer, I would be fluent in both Unity and Unreal,” Tatsuno said. “After that, I will start talking to people in architecture, construction, healthcare and insurance… to come up with suggestions and ideas. That’s what I will do. I think all industries are looking to attract young people.”

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