Minecraft Server Java Edition has added a new (spigot) plugin which changes climate mechanics in the game. This plugin adds the concept of greenhouse gases (CO2) in the game world’s atmosphere.
According to a recent report, only 45 percent of Americans think that global warming will pose a serious threat in their lifetime, and just 43 percent say they worry about climate change. These figures are alarming because serious damages due to Global Warming are imminent.
As such, games and other forms of entertainment services are a good approach to change these ideologies and make people aware of how serious the threat of Global warming is. Minecraft’s approach could not only spread awareness but also has the potential to develop personal accountability and healthy personal habits.
What does the Minecraft plugin do?
The Furnaces within the game emit CO2 when players smelt items. Every furnace burn causes a Contribution to emissions with an associated numerical value.
The trees are designed to instantly absorb CO2 when they grow from a sapling. Every tree growth causes a Reduction from emissions with an associated numerical value.
As CO2 levels rise, the global temperature of the game environment will also rise because of the Greenhouse Effect. The global temperature is a function of the net global carbon score. As the global temperature rises, the frequency and severity of negative climate damages increases.
Players need to design a default model that doesn’t quickly destroy worlds. Players are best off when they cooperate and agree to reduce their emissions.
What are its features?
- Scoreboard and Economy Integration
- Carbon Scorecard, where each player can see their latest carbon footprint trends via command line.
- Custom Models, with configurable thresholds, probabilities, and distributions.
- Load data on startup, queue DB changes to be done asynchronously and at intervals, and empty queue on shutdown.
How was the response?
The new Minecraft plugin received mixed reviews. Some considered it a great idea for teaching in schools. “Global warming is such an abstract problem and if you can tie it to individual’s behaviors inside a (small) simulated world, it can be a very powerful teaching tool.”
Others were not as happy. People feel that Minecraft lacks the basic principle of conservation of matter and energy, which is where you start with ecology. As a hacker news user pointed out, “I wish there was a game which would get the physical foundations right so that the ecology could be put on as a topping. What I imagine is something like a Civilization, where each map cell would be like 1 km2 and you could define what industries would be in that cell (perhaps even design the content of each cell). Each cell would contain a little piece of civilization and/or nature. These cells would then exchange different materials with each other, according to conservation laws.”
While there will always be room for improvement, we think Minecraft is setting the tone for what could become a movement within the gaming community to bring critical abstract ideas to players in a non-threatening and thought-provoking way. The gaming industry has always lead technological innovations that then further cascade to other industries. We are excited to see this new real-world dimension becoming a focus area for Minecraft.
You can read more about the Minecraft Plugin on its Github repo.