Utah Climate Challenge

(Natural History Museum of Utah)

Play your way to a better future for Utah by working together with friends and family.

The brief

The Natural History Museum of Utah sits in one of the world’s most diverse and beautiful environments but the effects of climate change can no longer be ignored.

Looking across the pond for expert advice, the museum team commissioned an onsite multiplayer game to affect genuine behaviour change around issues of sustainability, biodiversity, population growth and urban sprawl.

Our response

Visitors entering the Museum’s dedicated space for this multiplayer game see a vibrant panorama representing Utah. The large projection is both a spectacle for observers and a crucial feedback device for players that constantly changes throughout the day. 

Gameplay works on a number of levels so visitors of all ages can enjoy the experience. A simple cause and effect system rewards younger visitors with striking visuals, while older players can delve deeper and make more strategic choices as they learn to adapt to a changing climate. With a range of playful ‘tiles’ to choose from, but only a limited set available within each round, players must discuss their strategy to excel as a team.

Will a Ski Resort or National Park bring more fun to the world? Can a Vertical Farm generate enough food? How will Coal or Gas energy affect air quality?  Every small decision adds up to larger consequences and players inadvertently adopt roles as advocates for particular ways of meeting the needs of the city. In true ‘fun failure’ fashion, players can explore the impact of poor decisions through extreme events such as wildfire, drought and dust storms that wreak havoc on their designs.

An asynchronous, round-based multiplayer format was created to address the challenges of group dynamics in a busy museum environment. The shared screen is controlled by five terminals that players can step up to at any time to spend a limited number of rounds battling climate change. The most committed players will soon realise they need to work together – as they must in real life – for any hope of saving Utah.

"Hiring Preloaded for our project was both thrilling and terrifying. Their work history and philosophy are a perfect fit, but our teams are geographically so far apart. Any concerns were quickly dispelled by their enthusiasm and the ease with which we communicated. It was an enormously collaborative process and we love the new game. Every day we see visitors watching, talking and playing together, spending far longer in the gallery than we expected."

Becky Menlove, Associate Director for Visitor Experience, NHMU