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How gaming can simulate climate change


May 26, 2023
How gaming can simulate climate change


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Games for Change boss Susanna Pollack joined Dreamscape Global’s founder Sheridan Tatsuno to talk about how gaming can simulate climate change as part of the GamesBeat Summit.

Tatsuno’s got a pretty impressive and relevant resume. He’s a writer, an urban planner. He’s heavily involved in the tech scene. For half a decade he’s been working on city worldbuilding with a focus on climate action. He’s been touching on dealing with the effects of climate change for decades.

For Tatsuno, gaming as an industry is almost beside the point. The gaming industry, for the spaces he works in, is pretty miniscule.

“Gaming is a big industry, but it’s peanuts. It’s only, what, a couple hundred billion dollars?” Tatsuno began. “Take AEC; Architecture, Engineering, and Construction. It’s the largest industry in the world. It’s 10% of the global commerce. About eleven trillion dollars a year.”


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But gaming can intersect with AEC in some interesting ways. Thirty years ago or so a lot of AEC’s work came about through trial and error. Closer to the present it began to use simulators to simulate potential builds. The trick, though, is that it could only simulate individual buildings and a variety of external effects on those buildings.

Thanks to gaming, though, simulations are wildly more robust. AEC simulations aren’t just single buildings, but entire city blocks. Or entire cities. Those simulations can help discover potential problems well before a single hammer is put to a nail.

Gamers are important

And gamers? Gamers are the next generation of simulation builders. The skills and knowledge gamers pick up passively can directly translate to working in AEC fields, which in turn directly impacts decisions on climate change. Not so much the aiming and reflex skills learned from devoting time to a shooter, but building and visualization skills.

A gamer who learns how to create in Unreal Engine or Unity is already very well equipped to step into a climate focused career. It’s all tied together by the VR industry. For gamers looking to make an impact, that’s where to get a foot in the door.

“If I were a gamer I would master both Unity and Unreal,” said Tatsuno. “Then I would begin to talk to the architecture, construction, medical and insurance people … offer suggestions and ideas. That’s what I would do. I think the industries are all looking to attract young people.”

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