Flood S, Cradock-Henry NA, Blackett P, Edwards P. 2018. Adaptive and interactive climate futures: systematic review of ‘serious games’ for engagement and decision-making. Environmental Research Letters. 13(6):063005. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aac1c6.
Climate change is already having adverse impacts on ecosystems, communities and economic activities through higher temperatures, prolonged droughts, and more frequent extremes. However, a gap remains between public understanding, scientific knowledge about climate change, and changes in behaviour to effect adaptation. 'Serious games'—games used for purposes other than entertainment—are one way to enhance opportunities for social learning and enabling positive action. This paper identifies, reviews, synthesises, and assesses the literature on serious games for climate change adaptation. To determine the games’ impact, we assess which combinations of learning are achieved. Results show that factors influencing the overall success include generating high levels of trust between researchers, practitioners, and community participants; strong debriefing and evaluation practices; and the use of experienced and knowledgeable facilitators. There are limitations to this study. By focusing solely on the serious learning component of games additional benefits may have been overlooked. Furthermore, many of the games we reviewed are in early stages of application and may be further refined following piloting. Nevertheless, the research almost universally reports that the impact and value of serious games are very positive and there is significant scope and justification for continued growth in this research area. The results of this analysis can help inform future game design and research methodologies and enhance learning effects for resilient climate futures.