Organisations around the world are experimenting with new media to expand the reach of their soft power to influence and change behaviour. Virtual worlds have long been a destination for discourse with a new, digitally native generation, and provide a space to tackle some of the more pressing problems of our world today. Games are now so mainstream that even organisations like the United Nations are betting on their ability to engage a new audience.
Virtual worlds have long been a destination for discourse with a new, digitally native generation, and provide a space to tackle some of the more pressing problems of our world today.
The UN’s Ozone Secretariat has launched ‘Reset Earth,’ an educational platform which teaches younger children about the importance of protecting the ozone layer, through a film and accompanying game. This initiative enables the organisation to expand how they address issues and meet their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by moving into the realm of gaming, which goes hand to hand with its goal of education. Additionally, by spreading their message through these digital mediums, the UN is able to reach Gen Z audiences in a more engaging manner, by using technology in ways that younger audiences are already accustomed to. The platform is set to launch on the 24th of January to coincide with World Education Day and includes an animated film as well as a mobile game. The film’s storyline will address the issues facing our ozone layer and how to address these, through ‘collective positive action.’ Ozone depleting substances contribute to around 11% of total emissions that are released into the ozone layer. Meg Seki, Acting Executive Secretary of the Ozone Secretariat explains that protecting the ozone layer must be a ‘continuous effort by us and our future generations.’ ‘Reset Earth’ paints a bleak picture about the current state of our planet and depicts an apocalyptic future, where characters in the film are confronted with a skin disease referred to as ‘The Grow,’ which is the result of large quantities of smog and the depletion of the ozone layer. Through watching the film and realising the gravity of the situation that our planet is facing, the aim is that viewers will take the initiative needed to reset our earth and avoid the consequences featured in the film. The idea of a mobile app is a smart tactic to keep viewers engaged and think of how they can do their part and increase their knowledge on this topic. The app carries on with the theme of the film and allows players to switch between characters, unlock puzzles and learn about the environment and how to protect it. The UN also hopes to educate the current generation on the success of the 1985 Vienna Convention, where the world got together to address how best to solve the problem of a rapidly depleting ozone layer.
It is great to see the UN incorporating technology into its educational initiatives by launching projects such as ‘Reset Earth,’ which can engage young people to be aware of issues and take ownership from a young age. Hopefully such initiatives will inspire the next generation of leaders of the urgency facing our planet and the need to take action to protect it.