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Thank you for your interest in Energetic, by City Atlas, a board game about the future of New York City. Can you keep the lights on in 2030? Order below to find out!

Energetic reviews

“This game is incredibly well researched, thoughtful, and fun. It’s grounded in the challenges we face as a society to make this transition while demonstrating just how feasible it is with collective action rooted in shared values. This is a very useful and practical tool for bringing more people into this work.”
Ryan Madden, Long Island Progressive Coalition

“Our career-long aspirations achieved in one night!”
“There are certain components of this that are super accurate.”
Energy experts Jesse Jenkins, Scott Burger and Max Luke (of MIT and the Harvard Kennedy School)

“This game is perfect.”
High school student at The Point, a youth center in the Bronx

“We had an intro Wednesday with players with broad and comprehensive experience in the public, private and non-profit/advocacy sectors (including FERC, World Bank, UN, Tesla, et al.), domestic and international, large and small, with specialties in clean energy, climate, environment, economics and finance, development, policy, tech, business, and organizing – we loved the game and think it’s a terrific teaching, strategic thinking, and team-building tool.”
John Hansen, Paradigm Project

“Energetic…forces players to balance the unpopularity of hydro storage against the need for grid stability. I’d highly recommend the game for people who teach or do public outreach about clean energy policy.” 
Jonathan Gilligan, Vanderbilt University

“I think Energetic is an invaluable energy policy tool for understanding the complexity of the issue.”
—Shay O’Reilly, Sierra Club

“I’m still thinking about the game, and would love to play again sometime.”
Eric Thurm, journalist and author of Avidly Reads Board Games

What is Energetic?

We designed a board game about the future of New York City. Energetic gives everyone the chance to see the scope of change and cooperation needed to transform the city’s energy demand and supply in time to meet goals for the Paris Agreement.

In the game you play from 2021 to 2035, a turn each year. Your team of 4-6 must work together to balance your budget, your grid stability, and your public opinion to keep the lights on, win elections, overcome climate impacts, and build 16 gigawatts of clean power for the city. Then you will have replaced all fossil fuels, provided there is a matching reduction in demand from behavior change and efficiency.

Who is Energetic for?

Everyone! Energetic’s high degree of realism makes it an entertaining, effective learning tool, and it can be played by anyone from teenagers to post docs. During development, Energetic was enjoyed by people ages 11 to 60, including middle school students, energy Ph.D.’s, former commodity traders, and leaders at environmental NGOs. Games are in use at organizations including Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University, Nature Energy, NYSERDA, Con Edison, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the British Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Studying energy is a backdoor way to learn about how our lives will change, and why. Young people will see new careers, older people may want to switch careers, and all players come away with a detailed view of the benchmarks we need to hit, by when.

Why should I play this game?

Many of us are concerned about the climate crisis, but don’t yet have a clear picture of what concrete options are available to meaningfully address it. Our objective is to give players a quick grounding in what solving climate change actually means, in a physical and social sense, based on demand of energy and the types of renewable or carbon neutral generation that can supply 8 million New Yorkers.

As you play, one thing you’ll realize is that this problem is big, and our response must be too. This means, among other things, that it will be visible. Playing a single Solar piece represents building a piece of infrastructure nearly half the size of Manhattan. Playing a single Wind piece represents the construction of 167 metal structures, each nearly as tall as the Eiffel Tower, miles off the Long Island coast. The energy transition modeled in Energetic needs to happen with emergency speed if we are to maximize our chances of avoiding a Hothouse Earth. And yet, if you are not noticing it around you, then it is not happening.

It is clear that if we are to meet the urgency of this crisis, we must all push in the same direction. We hope playing this game can make your role in the coming decade more effective, better informed, and more powerful, and that by providing a tangible vision of what part of the solution looks like, society can begin the necessary step of reorienting itself towards this larger goal.

It’s a lot of fun, too!

What is City Atlas?

City Atlas is a public-facing project about the future of New York City, founded in 2011 with a Cultural Innovation Fund Award from the Rockefeller Foundation. City Atlas is built and operated by Artist As Citizen, Inc., a 501(c)3 corporation, under the guidance of the Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College. The mission of City Atlas is to help New Yorkers understand and prepare for the future of the city, as described in the reports of New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), the IPCC, and C40.org, and to strengthen the democratic process towards equitable responses to climate change.

More questions?

Follow us on Twitter @cityatlas for updates and join the conversation with #PlayEnergetic. Our DMs are open!

Reach us by email at richard@thecityatlas.org or archer.kinnane@thecityatlas.org.

And stay tuned—Energetic: The Guide is coming soon.

1 Comment

  1. This game looks amazing! I am a NYC high school environmental science teacher, how can I sign up to get on the list for receiving the donated boards?

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