“Energetic is an invaluable energy policy tool for understanding the complexity of the issue.” Shay O’Reilly, Sierra Club
“The game is genius. It checks all the boxes that an up-and-coming climate activist would want to know.” Kayla Wagonfeld, Yale undergraduate
Energetic is a four-player cooperative challenge in which you work to decarbonize New York City by building 16 GW of carbon neutral energy by 2035 (in the Green New Deal version) or 2050 (in the standard version). You can build entirely with renewables (wind, water and solar), or, by doing research before construction, include advanced nuclear power or natural gas with carbon capture (CCS). The game can be ordered here.
Info about Energetic spread thanks to researcher Jesse Jenkins at the Harvard Kennedy School (now at Princeton), who live-tweeted his play of our beta version in December, 2018. In our first production run of the game, which comes with a map board, three card decks, and 142 infrastructure pieces, we produced and sold 62 sets to players at organizations including Yale University, Nature Energy, NYSERDA, Con Ed, Boston Consulting Group, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the British Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Nine sets of a modified version, set in the fictional African country of Wakanda, are used in Dr. Paulina Jaramillo’s Sustainable Energy for Developing Countries class at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, with four additional sets at Carnegie Mellon’s campus in Africa.
The game is an entertaining, effective learning tool, and can be played by anyone from teenagers to post docs. During development, Energetic has been tested and enjoyed by people ages 11 to 60; middle school students, MIT Ph.D.’s, former commodity traders, and leaders at environmental NGO’s.
As of January, 2023, there are over 250 sets in use around the world, and professors and teachers at Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt University, Wofford College, Bronx High School of Science, and Hunter College High School have made Energetic a regular part of their classes. See their testimonials here.
Energetic is available through our partner, Artist As Citizen, a 501(c)3 arts organization. Order form. Questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you keep the lights on in NYC in 2030?
Feedback from energy researchers Jesse Jenkins, Scott Burger and Max Luke (from Princeton, MIT and the Harvard Kennedy School)
“Our career-long aspirations achieved in one night!”
“There are certain components of this that are super accurate.”
“I’d been waiting for something like this because, after years of writing about how to continue civilization without wrecking the world, I kept thinking that a game might be an easier way to help people weigh the thorny consequences that come with every strategic choice.” Nathanael Johnson, Grist
Feedback from high school students at The Point, a youth center in the Bronx:
“This game is perfect.”
An energy policy game group in Washington, DC: “We had an intro Wednesday with players with broad and comprehensive experience in the public, private and non-profit/advocacy sectors (including FERC, World Bank, UN, Tesla, et al.), domestic and international, large and small, with specialties in clean energy, climate, environment, economics and finance, development, policy, tech, business, and organizing – we loved the game and think it’s a terrific teaching, strategic thinking, and team-building tool.” John Hansen, Paradigm Project
Demoing Energetic, beta version of a new board game by @cityatlas, with help from @burgersb & @max_energy— Jesse D. Jenkins (@JesseJenkins) December 5, 2018
In this cooperative game (think Pandemic), your challenge is to build 16 GW of zero-carbon electricity to decarbonize NY.
Takeaway so far: decarbonization is freakin hard! pic.twitter.com/aYQSJYybu0
“I kept thinking, ‘Oh, they thought of that? Wow, they thought of that!’” Sam Arons, Lyft’s head of sustainability (quoted in Grist)
“This game is incredibly well researched, thoughtful, and fun. It’s grounded in the challenges we face as a society to make this transition while demonstrating just how feasible it is with collective action rooted in shared values. This is a very useful and practical tool for bringing more people into this work.” Ryan Madden, Long Island Progressive Coalition
Last night I along with friends from @NYRenews played Energetic a game where you build a #RenewableEnergy power grid for NY to meet 2035-2050 targets. It was great! The game teaches about grid infrastructure, RE tech, & mitigating #ClimateCrisis. Thanks @cityatlas! #PlayEnergetic pic.twitter.com/UbXGHh40BW— Adrien Salazar (@adrien4ej) October 4, 2019
“I wanted to contact you as I took Paulina Jaramillo’s class last semester on Sustainable Energy for the Developing World and was introduced to Energetic. I recently graduated from the Energy Science, Technology and Policy program at Carnegie Mellon and have started working at the Caribbean Green Technology Center at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, USVI. As part of the center we are working on outreach, particularly to students. Your game is a perfect opportunity for high school or college students to learn about the energy landscape and the many factors that go into making any decision.” Ariel Stoltz, University of the Virgin Islands
(Ordering info and comments updated 3/24/20.)
Credits: The development of Energetic is a group effort by the City Atlas teams of 2018/2019, and built on work by prior years of City Atlas researchers. Game mechanics by Truly Johnson and Connor Haseley and City Atlas team, board and piece design by Isil Akgul, card design by Janet Tam, instruction design by Theo Miller, editing by Archie Kinnane, project coordination by Ashley Brown, trainers and V.2.0 team: Archie Kinnane and Theo Miller, creative director for City Atlas, Richard Reiss, team beta testers: Erik Berg, Bridget Scanlon, Luke McGinty. Energetic was made possible with logistical support from Douglas Price, Peter Marcotullio, and our partner The Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College. Many thanks to Jesse Jenkins and Eric Hittinger for giving us notes on the prototype. Inspiration, David JC MacKay, FRS and Greta Thunberg.
Sources: An educator’s guide is in the works to provide the background for the many metrics used in the game. For an overview, some broad sources will be listed here, along with the observation that there is an amazing level of clarity developing as more energy data resources and research material becomes available to the general public online. Here are 70:
Energetic is a co-production of artistascitizen.org. ©2019 City Atlas/AAC