About Energetic

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We designed a board game about the future of New York City. This gives everyone the chance to see the scope of change and cooperation needed to transform the city’s energy demand and supply in time to meet goals for the Paris Agreement. As of December, 2022, 248 copies of the physical game are in use around the world.

Energetic is now available online as well, using the app Tabletop Simulator. Several schools, including Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt, Brown, Wofford College, and the Bronx High School of Science, use the game in both board game and online form.

Watch seven short interviews with teachers and students on YouTube.

Inquiries may be directed to Richard Reiss <richard@thecityatlas.org>.

Our objective is to give players a quick grounding in what solving climate change actually means, in a physical and social sense, based on demand of energy and the types of renewable or carbon neutral generation that can supply 8 million New Yorkers. In the game you play from 2021 to 2035, a turn each year. You must balance your budget, your grid stability, and your public opinion to keep the lights on, win elections, and build 16 gigawatts of clean power for the city. Then you will have replaced all fossil fuels, provided there is a matching reduction in demand from behavior change and efficiency.

Players come away with a detailed view of the benchmarks we need to hit, by when. After you play, you understand the reason for calling our situation an emergency, and this creates the space for strong political action to begin.

Planned with Energetic:

  1. Energetic for the Caribbean: In collaboration with the Caribbean Green Technology Center, a program of the University of the Virgin Islands, we’ve been commissioned to produce a version of Energetic set in the Caribbean region. Some of the ideas and challenges players explore in this game will be:
  • Building microgrids and designing for energy resilience.
  • Matching future electricity demand, as air conditioning grows and the islands switch to electricity for transportation and cooking.
  • Exploring policies that stakeholders can use to allow an island grid to switch to zero carbon energy.
  • Preserving vibrant and healthy ecosystems, on land and at sea.
  • Expanding social resilience in mental health & public health.
  • Factoring the economic dependence on tourism.

Because of the increased demand for online learning tools, we plan to develop the Caribbean game both as an online and board game version.

The Caribbean game will be instructive not only for people in the region, but also in the US and around the world, to see how climate impacts and decisions may be experienced in islands that are dependent both on luxuriant nature and a thriving tourist economy.

Pairing these two games can remind players how decisions in a global economic engine like New York City impacts smaller neighboring regions like the Caribbean, while migration from the Caribbean also has influence in New York.

Proposals for Energetic:

2 – Energetic for additional cities and regions: 

We are acquiring advisors to make possible the development of games for Paris, London, Shanghai and San Francisco.

We’re interested in portraying new cities around the US and the world, as well as integrating games and their surrounding materials with public dialogue programs on climate in each region.

Languages: We now have a Chinese translation of Energetic.

3 – The timeline for Energetic: Climate change is on a critical timeline and every month counts. Education is pivotal to creating the social consent for a fast and effective clean energy transition. With resources, there’s no technical reason we cannot have 10 million people around the world playing games that teach them what’s necessary to decarbonize their own cities within the span of a year.