April 8, 2010
Posted: 06:00 AM ET
My grandfather, Jacques Cousteau, was an eternal optimist and believed in the ability of humanity to find solutions to the world’s problems.
Now more than a decade after his death and on the eve of his 100th birthday, I am concerned that we are still struggling with the same challenges that he faced throughout his lifetime. Daily onslaughts against the environment such as the new proclamation to open up offshore drilling, while not as bad as it could have been, are still a worrisome sign.
We are a society that still too often treats the environment as somewhat of a nuisance…to be cared for only when it suits our needs. As one of the fathers of the modern environmental movement, my grandfather was a pioneer of ocean exploration. As my father Philippe Cousteau Sr. got involved, together they began to explore the human connection to the environment and our critical role as a part of the global system.
Now, as a member of the 3rd generation, my work is to issue a call to action. Awareness is no longer the name of the game…action must be our goal. ‘Sounds good’ you might be thinking, but how do we make it happen? I have spent many years working in education and media, from hosting documentaries, to being a spokesperson for Discovery Education to revolutionizing youth service through my non-profit EarthEcho International.
Surprisingly, I believe that the solution might just come from an unexpected place…video games. Games are an amazing educational tool and finally the technology is available to really make them a useful part of the environmental movement.
This April, my company Azure Worldwide has partnered with the University of Virginia to launch what we are calling an educational “life” game that simulates an environment, in this case the Chesapeake Bay, and allows players to take on roles that represent the more than 16 million people who live on, and make their livelihoods from the resources of the Bay.
From watermen and farmers to developers and policymakers, as the game is played, every decision has an impact on the health of the Bay and the wellbeing of the stakeholders each player represents.. Inspired by the Sim games that have been so popular over the years, The U. Va. Bay Game is a pioneering step forward and allows people to finally understand that if we are to solve the environmental crisis we face and build a stronger, healthier and more prosperous society we must begin to recognize our collaborative role with the world around us, both human and natural.
On April 8th we are celebrating The U. Va Bay Game at an event at the University of Virginia. This is just the beginning of the Game’s journey; already we are working to develop a version for the K-12 educational audience and because the Game is built as a flexible system it can be applied to any watershed throughout the world.
Thus, the Game becomes a tool that can challenge players to build healthy environments not only in the virtual world, but also in the real one. My grandfather would certainly think this is a exciting project and that he would believe, as I do, that saving our world is one game we can’t afford to lose.
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