The Disappearing Island

The PoLAR Partnership hosted a Climate Game Jam at Columbia University on October 2-3, 2015. The Disappearing Island won the best game award at this event. The game was created by Mark Madison, David Perry, Lizelle Serrano and me.

Disappearing Island is a multiplayer board game in which players act as helicopters trying to rescue as many houses as they can before the island is flooded by rising sea levels. The board is an island divided into six sections, with houses worth different values on each layer (coastal houses = 5 points, middle = 3, closest to home base = 2).

During each turn, a player will roll the die to determine in which section to advance the flood token, which destroys one house at a time. Players can move one space forward/ backward/ sideways to retrieve houses, with the incentive to rescue more valuable houses before they disappear. Players also hold three event cards in their hand and can choose to play one during each turn. Event cards can be either positive or negative, benefiting or harming an individual or all players. For instance, building a ‘sea wall’ will move one flood token back one space, while a ‘tsunami’ can move the flood closer. A ‘mechanical failure’ card lets you choose one player to skip a turn, and ‘government aid’ allows the player to move an additional space.

DI Cards

The game ends when the flood reaches the home base. While the game has one winner (whoever earns the most points), players often must collaborate in order to push back sea levels and extend the game. It’s a fun, fast-paced game that requires players to make interesting choices and trad-offs, simulating what people in real disappearing islands/ coastlines are experiencing.

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