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Video game shows the Delta you hope to never see

Effect of climate change on delta’s communities a key focus for Future Delta 2.0
Future Delta 2.0 is a gamified version of climate change projections created by UBC’s Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning group. Future Delta 2.0 photo

Eighty-three years into the future, Delta is a desolate wasteland where all three communties have been devastated by sea-level rise, storm surges, heat waves, food shortages, increased traffic and pollution.

At least, that’s the premise of Future Delta 2.0, a research-based video game that uses climate change projections for Delta to create a teaching-centric gaming model.

The video game originally came out of a collaboration with the UBC faculty of forestry’s Collaborative for Advance Landscape Planning (CALP) and the Corporation of Delta.

CALP has been working with Delta over the past decade to develop a better understanding of how North Delta, Ladner and Tsawwassen would be affected by sea level rise and other challenges associated with climate change — and what Delta could do to mitigate them.

“There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that climate change communication is challenging when at the global scale,” Future Delta 2.0 project coordinator Alicia LaValle said. “It either doesn’t seem terribly relevant to day-to-day life, or it’s too abstract to do anything about.”

LaValle said CALP’s goal was to create “localized, place-based visualizations … so that communities can feel engaged in the solution-making.”

Future Delta 2.0 uses a lot of the local data collected by CALP’s work in the municipality and gamifies it, creating a first-person experience of what Delta could look like under climate change, and what students can do to mitigate it.

For Seaquam teacher Michael Iachetta, that’s exactly what made Future Delta 2.0 such an effective teaching tool.

“The game is interesting, where a student can go to their own house and see what their neighbourhood and walk would be like based on the UBC scientist prediction of climate change,” he said.

“You want the kids to try to take action in their communities,” he continued. “This is something that gives them this realization that I can impact my community and planet, and the little decisions that I make in my own life.”

Iachetta was one of the teachers who helped CALP develop the video game in the Delta School District. He now uses the video game in his Grade 9 social studies class and as an introduction for various environmental clubs.

“If UBC was willing to come and take pictures of our local landscapes and make it so connecting to our district, where our students live, I thought, ‘how can we not pursue this?’” Iachetta said.

“It’s one of just many different tools … we now can work with to see this bigger picture.”

Right now, CALP is looking at taking Future Delta 2.0’s framework and creating a game that could be localized for different communities. But that’s still a long ways away.

“We’re still wrapping our heads around that,” LaValle said. “How do you make a game that’s place-based, but for anywhere?

“We have some ideas, but it’s early days and we’re still testing things.”

LaValle and others will be presenting Future Delta 2.0 at the George Mackie Library on Saturday, June 3 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and soliciting ideas for their upcoming climate change visualization projects.