5.1 Green economy games

Green economy, sustainability, climate change, and related topics are not just immensely complex and hard to grasp, they are also uncomfortable subjects that many people might feel uneasy to deal with. Lengthy documents and gloomy presentations certainly don’t alleviate these problems, when trying to inform and spread awareness.

A very different approach is the use of games that (in addition to pure entertainment) have an educational purpose, aka serious games. In fact, any game has the potential to teach us something, whether the gained knowledge and skills are useful inside the game only, or in the real world as well.

Games work on a different level than traditional pedagogic approaches. Instead of having to memorise and understand facts and relationships, players of a game directly experience how things work and interrelate, in a simplified and safe virtual environment.

If we tweak games to teach people about useful stuff, such as learning a language or understanding how the economy works, we can make learning more intuitive and reach a wider audience. In the case of sustainability education, where it is important to spread a message and make people understand the issues involved, this can be a valuable method.

Playing for the planet 

Case Study

In 2015, Silje Fjørtoft and Yannick Schillinger from the University of Agder, in cooperation with GRID-Arendal, created two small games to explore this approach. Each game is built around a single aspect of Green Economy and avoids including too much additional information, rather keeping it simple.

The Games

Conflict Solving

game1The purpose of this game is to show the complexity of conflicts and teach players to look for different ways of solving them.

It is a dialogue-based game, putting the player in the role of an advisor trying to solve a conflict and find an optimal solution.

GEP Indicators


The purpose of this game is to familiarise players with the eleven indicators and three dimensions used in the Green Economy Progress (GEP) framework.

It is a turn-based strategy game with the goal of creating sustainable development through employment in green sectors.

Both games take a complex and serious topic and put it in a simple and entertaining form, still conveying the essence. This way, they can serve as an introduction to green economy and give the players the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the subject in a playful manner.


Chapter 4 4 Ecosystems
Chapter 5 5. Green economy
5.1 Green economy games
5.2 Throughput
5.3 The eco economy
5.4 Towards a green economy
Chapter 6 6. Greener future?