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The game KEEP COOL teaches international climate policy

Klimaspiel KEEP COOL

KEEP COOL board game cover, Designer: Christoph Tisch

For the first time, an empirical study shows that a board game about climate change successfully teaches international climate policy. Instructions on how to effectively design such games have also been developed. New means of communication can tackle global challenges. The study was published in Climatic Change, the leading international and multidisciplinary journal on climate change.

200 young people from Germany between the ages of 13 and 16 participated and played the climate game KEEP COOL. They were asked about their beliefs on climate policy before and after playing the game, and their playing behaviour was observed.

The young people’s belief changes as a result of playing the game is statistically significant. For example, they consider themselves to be more personally responsible for tackling climate change. They also become more optimistic with regard to effective international climate policy in the future. Prof. Dr. Klaus Eisenack, head of the study, states: “Games may be able to harness unforeseen potential for social change.” Surprisingly, the effects are stronger among young people who take on a role in the game that is harmful to the climate. According to the authors this means that for climate games to be effective, it should be for the participants to decide whether they employ climate friendly or climate damaging to win the game. This teaches them to take a critical perspective on real-life events. The study is based on the bilingual (German/English) board game KEEP COOL, which was developed by Klaus Eisenack. With each move, players have to weigh public climate protection against their own interests in order to win. They take on the role of a country or a group of countries, such as the United States, the emerging countries or the developing countries.


The game is about core climatological, economic and political aspects of climate change, and it allows participants to find out about international climate negotiations as they play the game. Projects involving KEEP COOL have received awards by the German Council for Sustainable Development, have been awarded the Sparda environmental prize and the German Simulation and Gaming Award.

A free browser app version for smartphones is also available, which is funded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation.

Prof. Dr. Klaus Eisenack is the head of the Resource Economics Group at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin; Jasper Meya, co-author of the study, is a researcher in the group. The group conducts economic research on climate change, energy and water usage. They look into unsuccessful policy tools and institutions that have been around for decades and how to improve them. Through archetype analysis and games, they integrate approaches from microeconomics, institutional economics and interdisciplinary sustainability research.


Meya, J.N. & Eisenack, K. (2018): Effectiveness of gaming for communicating and teaching climate change. Climatic Change.

Further Information


Prof. Dr. Klaus Eisenack
Albrecht Daniel Thaer-Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Phone: +49 30 2093-46360