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    December 07, 2011 | 3:26 PM

    If the earth is our princess, what is your gold coin?

    © 2010 Flickr/vtdainfo cc by 2.0

    The last time I felt passionately about a console-based video game, I was throwing punches. On a Nintendo, I pedaled a bike to the next level in a game called Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. The premise of the game was simple. You box (fight) at increasing levels until you get to the final round, where presumably you go head to head with Mike Tyson. Though I can't be sure, because I never made it there. I was a 6-year-old girl battling an addiction to the Rocky boxing saga, but that's a topic for another blog.

    But plenty of others did make it to the final round. They honed their skills, moved up from one level to the next, and finally made it to the top.

    What makes games so fun and addictive? It turns out there's a logic to the way games work that applies outside of Wii or Playstaton -- it also applies to the climate movement.

    Last week, at the Gaming for Good Concept Reveal in New York, Aaron Dignan, a gaming expert and author of Game Frame, described how playing games helps the mind learn how to evaluate and form habits and expectations around complicated systems. Think about the quintessential video game goal: Save the princess. The first step of the game is never "saving the princess" (or winning the fight with Mike Tyson). It's the last step, and the player is okay with that. The user builds up patience and endurance, with the expectation that layers will need to be slowly -- and times artfully -- peeled away before the solution is found.

    Before you can save the princess, you have to get into the castle. To do that, you need a key. To find a key, you need a map. But the map is guarded by a ninja. To triumph over the ninja, you'll need a sword. Maybe you need six gold coins before you can unlock the sword. One successful action isn't enough. You need to repeat your successful behavior if you want to make a difference and be victorious.

    To those of us who care about the future of our planet, in the above video game analogy, the earth is our princess. We have to save it. But as I'm sure you've felt, the process is complicated. The political process is convoluted. The path you have to take to change the collective climate change denier base is not straightforward.

    If we want to save the planet from human-caused global warming, we need to change the collective conversation about climate change. That's how we rescue the princess. But what's the gold coin? The gold coin is the first step you take to change the conversation. Maybe it's commenting on a blog where there is a debate about climate change. Maybe it's wearing a conversation-starter T-shirt. It could be inviting an Al Gore-trained presenter into your community and hosting a Climate Reality presentation. A gold coin could be showing our Climate 101 video to someone who needs a refresher on the science behind global warming.

    One thing is certain: You're not limited in options.

    A second fact is: You're not the only player in this game. We're all going to help each other save the princess -- I mean the world. And the more we play together, the easier and more fun it will get -- and the closer we'll get to our goal of stopping climate change.

    So share in the comments: What will your "gold coin" be? What first action will you take today to help change the conversation?

    Before You Go

    At Climate Reality, we work hard to create high-quality educational content like blogs, e-books, videos, and more to empower people all over the world to fight for climate solutions and stand together to drive the change we need. We are a nonprofit organization that believes there is hope in unity, and that together, we can build a safe, sustainable future.

    But we can't do it without your help.

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