A video game designed by UBC researchers imagines a dystopian future where leaders have failed to address climate change. 

Delta Future 2.0 is set in 2100 and allows players to navigate a world devastated by rising sea levels, heat waves, fires, food shortages and more

Project coordinator Alicia LaValle told On The Coast's guest host Gloria Macarenko that her team developed the game for high school students who will be the generation the most affected by the effects of climate change.

Lavalle said she hopes the compelling visuals will help players understand how climate change will impact their city.

"We wanted to make people recognize that even though this complex climate change science sometimes seems very abstract, and the projections of what's going to happen don't seem very relevant for your day-to-day life, it's actually visually going to impact you and really going to be part of your life moving forward."

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The team behind Delta Future 2.0 said it hopes the compelling visuals will help players understand the extent to which climate change will impact their city. (Courtesy of UBC)

Back to the present

The team chose Delta because it is a typical Metro Vancouver suburban landscape but also a low-lying community vulnerable to rising sea levels. 

Delta Future 2.0 is not all about doom and gloom. The game prompts players to "travel back in time to present day and see if you have what it takes to change the future … for better or for worse."

Players are transported back to 2015 and prompted to make decisions to avoid the bleak future they were exposed to. As their character in the game grows older, they gain influence and responsibility.

"As youth players in the 2015, context they learn about retrofitting houses and help with local food initiatives, and then, as they make choices along the way with their community, they have more and more power to make choices that influence the government," said Lavalle.

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Delta Future 2.0 players travel back in time to try and develop an alternative future for the city. (Courtesy of UBC)

The game was co-designed and evaluated by students and teachers throughout its development, a process Lavalle said led to "significant increases in climate change concern and awareness."

The UBC team behind the game has received funding to expand its development, with the hope of introducing it into classrooms along with a teacher's guidebook.

Lavalle said her team is hoping to work with education, industry and government partners to develop games simulating other future cities.