Whatever you think about climate change,
its clear the battle to save the world (or our finances, depending on how you
view it) isn’t a clean one. Recently, the fight has gone online. According to environmentalist
Al Gore and his people, lobbyists (mainly for fossil fuels) have started to
foul public perception through a massive online campaign of disinformation: posting
evidence that climate change isn’t happening, seeding doubt about global
warming, and so on. Trolling, in other words.
Enter ‘Reality Drop’ – Al Gore enlists
supporters to challenge deniers across the web. What’s more, he’s made fighting climate
change deniers into a game. For those of you that don’t know, gamification
is basically an idea that’s steadily gained traction over the last few years – you can
change people’s behaviour by offering small incentives, like points, that can
be accrued over time to achieve greater rewards; you get them to compete with each other with things like a progress bar and via rankings or leaderboards; all in the name of whatever cause you choose.
In the context of Reality Drop, you get
points for fighting off the cronies of Big Oil online, on blogs and articles, leaving accurate information and challenging erroneous beliefs. Your
rank rises the more you do; the better you are, the more you can do, until you form part of the elite cadre finding and judging articles
that need to have reality ‘dropped’ on them.
This isn’t just about
arguing over whether climate change is happening or not – the muddy ground where the deniers are fighting. Reality Drop ups the stakes. Gaming behaviour is enlisted to save the world (and it leads to an interesting bit of mental gymnastics: people play reality as if it were a video game via a game that aims to reassert reality as a real thing).
Whether it works or not, it’s a great idea: change might be brought through story-telling, fighting off evil minions and setting up a Big Bad. In other words, by treating the world a bit more like an episode of Buffy.
(Thoughts courtesy of Planning Placement newbie James.)