Playing for Keeps: Designing Serious Games for Climate Adaptation Planning Education With Young People

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Playing for Keeps: Designing Serious Games for Climate Adaptation Planning Education With Young People


  • Stephan Hügel Department of Geography and Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  • Anna R. Davies Department of Geography and Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland


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Abstract:  Citizen engagement around climate change remains a wicked problem. It is particularly challenging in relation to climate change adaptation at the local level. In response, this article presents the design steps taken to create a serious game for young people (aged 15–17) as a means to increase engagement in planning for climate change adaptation in Dublin. The iAdapt game acts as the capstone component of the audio and visual teaching and learning resources for adaptation education on the Climate Smart platform and uses open data, interactive in-browser 2.5D mapping and spatial analysis, and exemplar socio-technical adaptation interventions. Its primary aim is to empower young people to understand and engage with the complexities, uncertainties, and processes of climate adaptation planning by using scientifically validated flood data predictions, grounded in a place-based setting and with diverse examples of diverse adaptation interventions. Participants experience the difficulties of decision-making under conditions of democratic governance and uncertainty in order to educate, increase awareness, and stimulate discussions around the multiple possible pathways to planning for climate adaptation. Initial testing results with a cohort of young people in Dublin are presented. We conclude by reflecting upon the challenges of creating a game that has broad appeal yet remains enjoyable to play and the value of integrating real-world flood data with gamified elements. We also discuss the “value question” regarding the impact of games on expanding public engagement. Finally, the article sets out a plan for further development and dissemination of the platform and game.

Keywords:  climate change adaptation; Dublin; education; flooding; iAdapt; serious games; youth

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v7i2.5113


© Stephan Hügel, Anna R. Davies. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.