The idea behind the game

Game Change Rio does not aim to change the world on its own. But it offers a great way to engage with the complexities facing our planet today. Based on a huge array of real-life data, players can explore the countless options to ruin our world for future generations or save the planet. Once more of us begin to understand the issues involved, we have a better chance of changing the game.

Game Change Rio gives you access to real-life data that so far has only been available to experts and policy makers. Based on the Millennium Institute’s Green Economy Model, which was commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the game includes all relevant sectors of the world’s economy and the natural resources available. All of these elements are linked according to a theory called System Dynamics and effects of policies are seen in their full complexity. The model has over 5,000 indicators, and with the 125 policy cards developed, the game has over 100 million possible outcomes.

The model demonstrates that efforts to ‘green’ the world’s economy will lead to a higher rate of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. Indeed, a green economy is expected to overtake our current, business-as-usual economy (BAU) within ten years. The BAU scenario replicates historical trends and assumes no fundamental changes in policy or external conditions to alter the trends, development benefits in terms of GDP growth and poverty reduction may continue for some time.

The Green Economy Model is built on the notion that world invests 2 per cent of its GDP in ‘green’ policies. There are added external benefits to such policies: green economies are biased towards economic growth for the poor (through building up natural capital, on which the livelihood of the poor depends.)

Game Change Rio aims to raise awareness for the issues that need to be addressed if future generations are to enjoy life on this planet and goes on to propose solutions to the problems we are facing.





Game Design

Matthew Herren

Sebastian Stier

Joshua DeBonis


Sebastian Erb


Michael Brander

Christoph Hess

David Fritz


Andrea Bassi

Cathy Tan


bitgenerator logo

Mario Dorr

Michael Lehmann



Video Production

Rafael Gschwend


What do red and green bars mean?
Green bars represent an increase in the respective resource or goal. Red means a decrease. The length of the bars indicate their impact. In other words: the longer the green, the better; and avoid long red ones!

Why does the policy card on biofuels have a positive effect on food?
The biofuel policy in the game invests only in second-generation biofuels that use agricultural crop residues that is not for food as feedstock, so it does not compete for crops with food.

Why are the results I play different than what the score cards say they will be?
When you play a card, its impacts are dependent on all of the cards you have played before. For example, if you raise taxes on crop production, the effects are going to be dependent on how many crops you have. In policy cards, we try to give you an idea of what effect they will have (and we calculate that by running that card on its own) but we cannot predict exactly what indirect effects your card will have because we do not know what you played before. Who said solving out the problems of the world would be easy!

How is my available budget calculated?
Your available budget is a certain percentage of worldwide GDP (gross domestic product) that is assigned to you to pursue green policies. As global GDP rises (or falls!) over time your budget will adapt accordingly, giving you more money (or less!) in later rounds. But watch out: policies can become more expensive!

Why are experience points important to me?
Experience points allow you unlock policies. The more you play, or the more you share the game with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, the more points you'll get, and the more policies you'll be able to unlock!

How is my score calculated?
We calculate scores based on the impacts you make to the three goals: (1) jobs, (2) food, and (3) the environment. The final score is determined by adding the scores you achieve in each goal, so keep an eye on all of them!

What does approval rating mean?
The approval rating indicates how your policy decisions are received by the citizens of the world. We calculate this based on a variable defined by the World Bank. and called the Human Development Index. An approval of less than 50% for two rounds in a row kicks you out of office, and out of the game!

Why do some policies cost negative money?
Policies that cost negative money mean that you will earn money as a result of playing them -- such as the implementation of taxes. These may help you in later rounds, but may impact your approval rating, so be careful!

What are direct and indirect effects?
Policies have both direct and indirect effects. The direct effects are shown by the bars. The indirects are the side effects of a policy. For example, if you increase available food through agriculture policies, school grades may improve as a result of better education. (School feeding programs have surprisingly high impacts -- at first glance -- on student performance.) You will, in turn, lead a more productive workforce which, in turn, leads to a faster growing GDP (gross domestic product). These side effects are included in the scoring after each round.

Why does “increasing spending for education” lead to reduced jobs?
This is because the improved education level increases labor productivity. And thus given the same capital level, the demand for labor decreases.

Why does building solar power plants, wind power plants, etc. lead to less jobs?
For the green sources like solar, wind, etc, the expansion of power plants creates jobs in power plants, while on the other hand it would reduce employment in fossil fuels power plants and in fuel extraction. So total employment is the result of both the positive and negative impacts.

What are the missions for?
Missions allow you to focus on some of the world's most important issues. And by doing so, you can win experience points.