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Earth Day goes digital to engage online gamers with environment issues | Environment


Earth Day demonstrations scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic are being replaced with digital activism via the online gaming community to exploit an as yet untapped audience for action against climate change.

Earth Day, 22 April 2020, had been years in the planning but the large global demonstrations to mark the event’s 50th anniversary were brought to a halt by Covid-19. In a swift pivot from the physical action which was to have been spearheaded by half a million people gathering in Washington DC, organisers sent their movement into the digital sphere.

In an attempt to capture huge audiences they have collaborated with the online gaming community, sending messages about the need to tackle climate change.

This week, the two million people who play the digital card game Solitaire Grand Harvest were greeted with climate messages and additional games designed to spur players into thinking about ways they could help the environment. The game already has a “green” tinge: players grow virtual plants and harvest crops on a “farm” in its challenges.

Jillian Semaan, food and environment director at the Earth Day network, said: “We had to completely change what we were doing to mark the day, and this seemed like a natural fit with Solitaire Grand Harvest and something we were really excited about.





Covid-19 masks at an Earth Day event in Seoul, South Korea, linking ecosystem destruction to the root causes of the coronavirus pandemic.



Covid-19 masks at an Earth Day event in Seoul, South Korea, linking ecosystem destruction to the root causes of the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Jung Yeon-Je/AF/Getty

“This is the first time we have reached out through the gaming world. Measuring success is always challenging, but what we hope is that these additional games will allow people to see that what we produce, what we consume and what we waste has an impact.

“If this translates, once the lockdowns are over, into people going out and engaging more with the environment, in beach cleans, reducing waste, that is the connection we want to make.”

Players of Solitaire Grand Harvest this week are greeted with the introduction: “As y’all know, our farm is full of different landscapes, just like the planet we live on. So, in honor of the International Earth Day we’ve decided to pay homage to mother nature with some special challenges, unique surprises, and HUGE rewards – all related to environmental protection and recycling.”

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