Dev Blog 1 - Earth Rising: Or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the climate crisis

//This Dev Blog was originally posted as an update on the Earth Rising Kickstarter on August 25, 2021//

This first update is a simple overview about the process that brought Earth Rising into reality. As an autistic game designer I am driven first and foremost by passion, and despite the hopeful and upbeat aim and atmosphere of Earth Rising it’s a game that was originally born from a period of intense difficulty.

The culmination of environmental, political, and personal despair, this game was borne from a chance cinema viewing of the film ‘2040’, which interrupted the bleak message of 2019 that any action taken tomorrow was an act too late and instead showed how we could use real life practices that already exist to change our world and make things better - not just for the planet, but for people too. I discuss in detail Earth Rising’s origins in our website post: The Earth Rising Origin Story!

How We Talk About Something Affects How We Think About It

Two years later and the discourse on the climate world has changed. It seems clearer all the time that people can galvanise themselves behind a feeling that ‘it can be better’ than they can behind the idea that ‘it is going to be worse’.

Yet the strongest understanding I have gained from everything I’ve learnt during my time making Earth Rising is that what people lack most of all isn’t hope or fear, it’s not motivation or energy, it’s actually understanding. Understanding starts with knowledge, and knowledge, especially in the scientific world, isn’t accessible.

But how do you make a complicated, wide reaching subject accessible? The answer, of course, is in small ways. Presented bite-sized, complexity can be overcome and made simple. Knowledge is the building block of understanding, and in order to understand something completely, you need to take in a fair few nuggets of info!
They don’t need to be taken in all at once, in fact, people generally learn better by being able to process small elements at a time, slowly building up the size of their knowledge without being overwhelmed by the information. This is where we come to point two...

Make it fun! Anyone who has had a teacher inform them that “you’re not here to have fun, you’re here to learn” will likely also know that the two concepts aren’t actually exclusive.
People take in so much more information when they’re enjoying themselves as their minds open up, ready to take in enjoyment, and the information rides in on the back of it. 

I like to imagine a small camel, which is your enjoyment, charging its way into your head with a pair of “info-humps” on its back. Make the info too heavy, or the fun-camel too small, and neither will be able to make it into your head.

Riding the Fun-Camel into the Desert of Fear

Fight or flight isn’t just a concept our minds apply to physical threats. If we find a concept scary, we either fight it (climate denialists refusal to believe irrefutable facts, for example) or we flee from it.

Another way to consider this last one is “disengaging” with it. Your friend or colleague who hears the climate crisis issues and shrugs, saying “it’s not like I can do anything about it” isn’t suggesting that they’re not taking it seriously, but instead finds it overwhelming and on a base level, pretty terrifying. But how do you face something you have no control over but ultimately impacts your entire future?

The answer is, of course, that you can’t. So the brain switches it off. Like your nose switching off overpowering smells after half an hour of smelling them, or your ears tuning out the ticking of a clock. It’s not that the issue is gone, it’s just that the message being sent to your brain isn’t deemed helpful.

Damon Gamau broke my brain’s barrier to information by riding a fun-camel straight on through it with 2040. It gave me just enough information packaged in an outer shell of enjoyment that I was able to stop feeling scared by the climate crisis and started to feel empowered. For the first time, I felt able to think about it in a positive light.

Earth Rising is my fun-camel. It’s designed to ensure that everyone who plays has a good time, and in the process a few nuggets of information are carried into the brains of those who play. It’s my way of paying forward what 2040 did for me, and it’s my hope that with enough Earth Risings, 2040s and other ways of making our climate crisis accessible and understandable, we’ll overcome it together, as a species.

After all, if humanity is powerful enough to be able to accidentally change the atmosphere and ecosystems of an entire planet… just think what we could do, united, and with purpose.

Enjoying Earth Rising's Dev Blog? Leave a comment below, or read on in Dev Blog 2 - Board Overview: Breaking down our path away from breakdown

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 of 3