Overcoming Entrenched Perceptions About Climate Change
Science communications has long fallen prey to the “information deficit” model of communicating: people lack information to make decisions, and scientists provide it from a position of unassailable authority.
But while the best available evidence is important for good decision-making, past failed climate communications efforts have made clear that more information is not necessarily better. In the United States, for instance, where stances on climate change fall squarely along entrenched socio-political lines, more information seems to force opinions about climate change farther apart along those lines of identity.
Is it the information that is the problem? Or — at least in part — who is presenting it and the ways and vehicles through which it is delivered? Recent studies in science communication strongly suggest the latter. These studies point to new solutions that focus on new messengers and modes of communication — such as the new generation of hyper-realistic, immersive video games.
The video game industry is now larger than the movie industry in the United States and continues to grow, with 59 percent of Americans playing games. They are a promising platform for profound innovation in communication, education and social change.
But creating video games that can change human behavior requires an understanding of how people interact with games, what they take away from them, and how they react to them. Games can be seen as providing “designed experiences” in which players can learn by doing and being. The environmental community has been slow to embrace video games as a medium for communication and education. Nonetheless, a few games have addressed climate change — most focusing on emissions reduction, but some involving adaptation and climate impacts.
Could such games eventually overcome entrenched perceptions and create a new public demand for meaningful action on climate change?
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