Efforts to forestall global warming generate both big news and big bucks. Whether it’s the auto industry or the travel market, going green has become a double entendre with environmental sustainability increasingly tied to profitability. So it’s no wonder that the trend has found its way into the children’s games market.
My kids love Monopoly so the advertisement for Earthopoly caught my eye. A quick bit of exploration and I was sold on the idea of a board game that teaches kids skills for this century. In Earthopoly, kids trade carbon credits when buying and selling resorts. Instead of a jail, there’s a dump. And you don’t pass go anymore, you go green.
Earthopoly is not the only game designed to enhance kids’ respect for Mother Earth. Ice Cap is a card game in which the goal is for the players to work as teams and restore the cold to the ice caps. Ice Cap presents the concept of global warming and melting ice caps with charm, invoking images of polar bears and penguins stranded on ice.
A similarly-themed board game, À la Dérive, new in 2010, pits penguins suffering ice field loss against one another to compete for food while gathering eggs.
Ab in de Tonne is another new game for 2010. Children sort trash cards while a stray cat that upends their efforts keeps the game interesting.
Xeko Mission games focus on the fragile environments of countries with sensitive ecosystems: Indonesia, China, and Costa Rica. The Xeko Mission games teach children about the ecosystems of the countries. These games won several awards when they were introduced in 2007 including Child Magazine’s Game of the Year, National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, and Toy Man Award of Excellence.
There’s an interesting story behind the game Abwrack Prämie: Das Spiel which came onto the market in 2009. A German auto parts manufacturer created Abwrack Prämie (“scrapping premiums”) when economic woes would otherwise have forced his milling machines into disuse. A little like Cash for Clunkers, the game involves drivers trading in old plastic cars for new aluminum ones.
20th Century sounds challenging. The premise is building an eco-sustainable country. Development is measured according by the absence of pollution and garbage. Different lands have different goals (income production v. research, for example) and managing them properly provides the tools needed for the next round of the six-round game.
Play Rethink encourages players to ponder the various uses of common materials and develop problem-solving skills. Players draw out design concepts based on idea card prompts. Play Rethink was originally designed for the workplace.
This list is not exhaustive but gives parents ideas for the range of eco-themed games available for holiday gift-giving.