At worst, competition without meaningful context has the risk of actively encouraging anti-environmental behaviors and thinking.


Chappin et. al (2017) conducted an experiment using Settlers of Catan: Oil Spring, investigating how the use of oil as a valuable, but limited, shared resource could affect player behavior. Despite explicit warnings that the use of oil would cause all players to lose, players continued to take from the oil resource.


Research indicates competition in games with environmental messaging can lead to a decrease in pro-environmental thinking and behavior (Chappin et al 2017).


  • Environmental psychology necessitates a consideration of an individual’s connection to others and the environment. Consider how mechanics may risk putting players at odds with the mindset you want to help establish. 
  • If competition is the primary psychological need the game is focused on, strengthen pro-environmental goals within the competition itself. For instance, consider the ways in which repairing or protecting from environmental harm may strengthen a player’s competitive position.
  • Design onboarding and contextual cues to regularly reinforce the harm anti-environmental actions are causing to the player’s position in the game. This can also enable Transactive Learning

From the Environmental Game Design Playbook
– by IGDA Climate SIG