Presented by the PoLAR Partnership and Autodesk

The PoLAR Partnership, Autodesk, and Games for Change (G4C) will award a prize of $10,000 USD to one winner to create a digital game that engages players to understand their role in addressing climate change.

Submit online here.

The design challenge invites game designers, educators, students, and scientists of all experience levels to propose a game that encourages diverse audiences, including (but not limited to) college students, decision makers, and lifelong learners, to understand and respond to climate change in their everyday lives.

Four finalists will receive free travel and accommodations to present to the jury, live, on stage at the Games for Change festival in New York City from June 23 to 24, along with Festival passes from Games for Change. One winner will receive a $10,000 prize to support development of the game.

Game concepts should target audiences with varying levels of game play experience and educate players to take action in the real world. No professional game development experience necessary to submit an entry. Review the full challenge guidelines and rules here.


  • March 14: Climate Challenge launches and submissions open
  • May 6: Deadline for submissions
  • June 6: Finalists notified
  • June 23-24: Winner selected on stage by live jury at Games for Change Festival in New York City

The Problem

Climate change is no longer a challenge of the distant future: increased coastal flooding, changing precipitation patterns, and record high temperatures are just some of the climate impacts that communities around the world are facing today.  These impacts pose threats to social and economic systems, infrastructure, and ecosystems.  People are growing concerned with what the effects of climate change mean for the people they love and the places they care about.  Scientists and global leaders agree that we need to prepare for the changes that are already underway and also work together to limit global warming in order to prevent further changes.

The good news is, solutions exist and more are being developed everyday.  From shifting towards renewable energy sources to choosing low carbon lifestyles to building more resilient cities, there are many options.  Solving the climate challenge requires collective action, and the benefits of acting now far outweigh the risks of inaction.  Yet, many people remain uncertain about what they and others can do to help.  Through the Games for Change Climate Challenge, we aim to inspire more people to tackle this problem at the local, regional, and global level.


The Solution

Games can help inspire curiosity, creativity, collaboration, optimism, and problem-solving, all of which are crucial elements in the collective impact to solve the climate challenge.  Research shows that the best way to engage people in learning about and responding to climate change is to make it personally relevant.  Tapping into values and worldviews while also focusing on actionable solutions can empower individuals, communities, and organizations to meaningfully address the challenges posed by a changing climate.


Challenge Themes

Games should focus on scientifically-grounded climate solutions: preventing carbon emissions, preparing for impacts, and/or promoting public awareness and understanding.  The winning game will be engaging, entertaining, and empowering, allowing players to learn more about climate change and to better understand what they and others can do to make a difference.



Four Finalists One Selected Winner
  • Two complimentary passes to the 2016 Games for Change Festival
  • Complimentary travel and lodging during Festival
  • Recognition on the Games for Change website and Festival communication
  • Opportunity to present design and network with other funders, activists, and designers
  • $10,000 cash prize
  • Opportunities for mentoring with technical and/or content experts to further develop the winning prototype
  • Promotion on Games for Change’s website and social media channels


This is a creative challenge: Participants are encouraged, but not explicitly required, to use at least one Autodesk tool (specifically Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, Maya LT, or Stingray) in creation of game submission materials. This can include items used to create mockups, wireframes, visual assets, graphical elements, or mechanical mockups to help depict your game concept or gameplay design. Professional game development experience is not necessary.

Submissions require a working prototype. Travel accommodations and festival passes will be provided for up to four finalists to give presentations and demos as part of the final jury, live on stage at the Games for Change Festival in NYC this June. Submissions are due by May 6, 2016 at 11:59pm EDT. Submit online here.


Resources and Inspiration

New to Climate Science? Climate 101 with Bill Nye
Short Answers to Hard Questions About Climate Change
National Climate Assessment
The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the U.S.
NOAA’s Climate.Gov
National Academy of Science: Climate Modeling 101
Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science
Energy Literacy: Essential Principles and Fundamental Concepts for Energy Education
Yale Program on Climate Change Communication
Connecting on Climate: A Guide to Effective Climate Change Communication
U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit
Games and Simulations – Weather, Climate, Atmosphere

The PoLAR Partnership

The PoLAR Climate Change Education Partnership seeks to inform public understanding of and response to climate change through the use of innovative educational approaches that utilize fascination with the shifting polar environments and are geared towards lifelong learners. Supported by a five year grant from the National Science Foundation, the PoLAR Partnership has developed a portfolio of tools and resources, including games and simulations that engage a wide variety of audiences and are exciting to use in homes, museums, classrooms, and communities.  Based out of the Columbia Climate Center at the Earth Institute, Columbia University, the PoLAR Partnership is an interdisciplinary collaboration that includes experts in climate science, formal and informal education, learning theory, game design, and communication.

The PoLAR Partnership is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation (DUE-1239783).  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.  No federal funds will be used in awarding prizes to the Climate Challenge winner.



For more than 30 years, Autodesk software has helped designers, engineers, visual artists, students and makers imagine, design and create a better world. Advances in accessible 3D design and fabrication technology are disrupting the design, engineering and entertainment professions as we know them. As a result, Autodesk is expanding beyond our design roots and applying our industry insights to usher in a new era of making things.

Over 100 million people use Autodesk software to unlock their creativity and solve important design, business and environmental challenges. Our software runs on both personal computers and mobile devices and taps the infinite computing power of the cloud to help teams around the world collaborate, design, simulate and fabricate their ideas in 3D. If you’ve ever watched a great film, driven a high-performance car, admired a towering skyscraper or used a smartphone, you’ve experienced what Autodesk customers are doing with our software. Autodesk is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area and has more than 7,000 employees worldwide.