By the time it really hits you that flash-based tower defense game Rizk is actually teaching you about climate change, you might be enjoying yourself too much to care.
On the outside, Rizk is a strikingly stark and stylishly simple example of tower defense. You begin each level with a plant, tasked to ensure that it grows to maturity. Resources scattered about the map are yours to harvest, providing the energy needed by your plant to grow, while three different types of defender units can be deployed, providing your growing bud protection from attack.
What's attacking you is based on how much noise you make while you are collecting. Dormant threats are scattered across the game's playfields, only becoming active when disturbed by your activity. If you place a drilling collector next to one of these threats, for example, it will activate, sending damaging spores to attack your plant.
The Science Museum of London created Rizk in order to demonstrate the delicate ecological balance of our planet, and how advancing our own external goals can disturb that balance.
It's a game about risk-versus-reward. A large deposit of resources might seem like an opportune way to quickly grow your plant, but awakening a large threat in the process opens it up to damage that can only be repelled by expensive defender units.
At any given point in the game you can open up a risk assessment map, showing the severity of the risk associated with a specific area, as well as the likelihood at any given time that the threats there will become active.
At the end of each level the player is scored based on the amount of resources they have left to work with, with penalties assessed for unused collectors, unused defenders, and the amount of damage your plant receives. Each end-of-level screen also contains helpful tips, such as "Understanding severity and likelihood of events can help decision makers plan and prepare for the future."
Obviously this is bigger than a simple tower defense game. Rizk demonstrates how delicate a balance must be maintained to keep an environment from undergoing massive changes, while helping players understand how to assess risk and act accordingly.
It's the kind of knowledge the present and future leaders of the world should possess. I'm pleased to see it being distributed in video game form.
Hit up the link below to learn for yourself.
Rizk: The Climate Change Game [Science Museum]