New Goal Orientation

By working towards new, unfamiliar goals, players build empathy, learn, and think critically about solving real world issues.


If a designer wants to show how deforestation severely impacts local wildlife, the designer could make a survival / crafting game where the goal of “survive” is made increasingly difficult as bulldozers level the forest. The player learns firsthand how deforestation impacts local ecosystems and the lives of animals.


  • Convincing people of the relevance of climate change and its harm is very difficult. Having players work through relevant problems increases logical empathy, encouraging players to understand why a person (real or imagined) would feel a certain way.
  • New goal orientation is valuable in encouraging empathy for those impacted (now or in the future) by climate change.


  • Games generally put players into a new role or situation, different from their real-world lives. Taking on the role means taking on new goals. A player must think through what they must do and, to some extent, feel the stress of overcoming obstacles to the goal. 
  • Realistic situations with realistic goals and realistic obstacles are highly valuable for transferring understanding from in-game to the real world.
  • Interaction with systems and building systematic knowledge in itself will not automatically create logical empathy. Consider opportunities for players to build an emotional connection with what’s happening within the game as they gain mastery of the tasks needed to accomplish their new goals. 

From the Environmental Game Design Playbook
– by IGDA Climate SIG