Climate change is a slow and painful process for many in the present: a sense of powerlessness, sadness, and loss could already easily be described as commonplace. Plasticity is a game aimed at promoting a feeling of individual environmental stewardship, and, despite its grim and apocalyptic presentation of the future, a feeling of hope. Students Michelle Olson and Aimee Zhan at the University of Southern California created the game in early 2020 as a platform to highlight not only the reality facing humanity with climate change but also the power that comes with becoming personally invested in the planet’s health and betterment. Follow a young girl and her dog as she travels up and down what appears to be the once lush and densely populated coast of California. Dead whales surrounded by ocean plastic, the sky an eerie hue of red from fire, with the remains of life literally littered everywhere. As the main character works to restore her world by picking up waste, planting seeds, and farming, the world positively responds in kind and begins to repair. It is a stark and gutting feeling to imagine the world completely destroyed in 2140, but the game does highlight the perseverance of nature and the human spirit. It isn’t entirely clear what projection scenarios were used to create the game or how accurate the portrayal is, but it does highlight a lot of the easily identifiable consequences of unchecked climate change and pollution; massive forest fires, a loss of biodiversity, an ocean choked with plastic and toxic waste. While there are many educational tools that reinforce the danger humanity faces, this game goes further by highlighting perseverance as an everlasting resource. This game does not yet appear to be commercially available but has been tested with kids in elementary schools, which the creators see as the target audience for their game.


Aesthetic/Leisure, Citizen Science, Psychology, Regulation