What the Climate Movement Can Learn From Very Angry Birds

04/21/2015 04:06 pm ET | Updated Jun 21, 2015

Whether you are building a climate movement or building the gaming industry, smart people know that you have to meet your customers, activists or gamers, where they are.

The gaming industry has figured out how to reach people where they are. Human beings now spend three billion hours a week playing online games, and close to 100% of teenagers under 18 years old, boys and girls, play games regularly, according to alternative reality game designer, Jane McGonigal. By the time a person is 21 they will have spent 10,000 hours playing on-line games, close to the same number of hours that they will spend in classroom education.

Many adults are skeptical about the value of online games, but experts agree that playing on-line games, especially in groups, makes people more optimistic and improves players' cognitive skills, such as problem solving, reasoning, and perception. Studies have shown that young people can build resilience skills from losing games.

So what can we learn from this?

Successful movement builders know that leaders are useless without followers, and they know that movements are created around shared values and a sense of optimism. Like gamers, they know that playing with friends is much more enjoyable than playing alone.

The unique ability that games have in engaging hundreds of millions of people may be a one pathway to expand and diversify the environmental movement and help us reach climate agnostics or even climate deniers, and turn them into activists.

That's why Earth Day Network and Angry Birds have joined together to create a climate change game.

Why Angry Birds? For starters, Angry Birds is the most downloaded game of all time: 2.8 billion times. In some countries, the game has been downloaded more times than the size of the population. It's also incredibly fun. The game is built around birds seeking revenge against pigs for stealing their eggs. A gamer gets to throw things and make really loud rude noises.

Sounds like fun. And it is, but it is more than that. At the center of angry birds is a world of values that teaches a commitment to justice and inspires gamers to go after what they believe in. Tapping into these values is how you get gamers to understand that protecting earth is like protecting your eggs.

EDN and Rovio are joining forces to bring these values together in a new game: climate, commitment to justice, and action.

More so than ever, there's an urgent need for us to come together and collectively find solutions to the mess we are in. To do this, we need to step up our efforts in creating global social awareness, reaching everyone wherever they are. The gaming community is both global and millennial; two of the most important constituent groups that we need to engage to build a powerful and just climate change movement. Imagine hundreds of millions of gamers building a unified front to combat climate change.

Who would have dreamed on the first Earth Day 45 years ago that angry birds would join angry protestors to help put us over the finish line.