OFFSET! is a video game developed by NASA’s Climate Kids that targets an early elementary school-aged demographic to teach them about the consequences of CO2 emittance and how to offset it. This free computer game starts with coal-burning power plants and gasoline-powered cars emitting CO2 into the atmosphere, causing Earth to rapidly warm up. To “offset” the CO2 sources, the player must continuously repair their CO2 “sinks” – in this case, forests that take in CO2 and release oxygen. As soon as the game starts the player starts earning money that they can use to upgrade their coal power plants to wind farms, oil-consuming cars into electric cars, and repair their forests. Simultaneously, the player uses a paddle at the top of the sky to stop the CO2 molecules from entering the atmosphere and warming their climate. However, when enough CO2 molecules escape into the atmosphere – it is game over. This game is very simple, but that is it’s an advantage: it is very clear where CO2 comes from, what happens when it is over-emitted, and how to combat global warming (with cleaner energy sources and an abundance of vegetation). Providing a foundation for environmental systems and sustainability to young children, OFFSET! gives them an environmental application they can easily relate to the real world without all the science jargon or complex details of these feedback loops. Video games and media like this are setting up the youth who will have no choice but to battle climate change for a deep understanding of the interwovenness of Earth’s complex environmental systems and human-nature interactions at increasingly younger ages. The younger the ecological conscience is developed, the stronger it should be.


Climate Change, Psychology