Gaming Climate Change

Spring 2021
Kent Linthicum
ENGL 1102 HP1
Climate change, the foremost crisis of the 21st century, presents manifold challenges to human cognition, organization, and action. Only recently, though, has modern media has started to grapple with climate change in books, television shows, and movies. Games, both analog and digital, though lag behind (as a quick Internet search for ‘climate change games’ reveals). This course will explore the question of whether games are a capable rhetorical medium for understanding or affecting climate change? Can they help articulate the scale and inequitable effects of climate change? Or are games merely a rhetorical extravagance which should be discarded in favor of more effective mediums? The first half of the course introduces the basics of climate science, international climate negotiations, and game analysis. This will culminate in a gamified recreation of the negotiation of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord, using Reacting to the Past curriculum, where students will represent countries negotiating the treaty. The second half of the course will focus on a team project where students will create their own game that dramatizes climate change and/or its effects to be exhibited at the end of the semester. As a Serve-Learn-Sustain affiliated course, this class will identify relationships among ecological, social, and economic systems, with an especially focus on communities and environmental justice. Through all this the class will highlight the forms of WOVEN (written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal) communication as we consider how to communicate climate change in the 21st century. In order to develop and deploy rhetorical knowledge students will compose and design critical analyses, posters, speeches, games, and other texts. Other graded elements will include project brainstorms, outlines, peer review, and shorter reflections. Ultimately, the course will provide students with opportunities to discuss, practice, and reflect on rhetoric alongside the tools to critique media ecologies of climate change.
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