GEOlino Meltdown: A Game of Cold, Hard Facts

Education Tabletop Games Technology


When you’re trying to convince somebody, sometimes nothing speaks louder than one really effective image. Now, sometimes those images can be incomplete (or downright false) but even the most logical and rational of us have visceral reactions to certain pictures. In the conversation about climate change, the image that comes to mind for most people is the polar bear. Watching a clip of a polar bear swimming and swimming with no ice floes in sight probably swayed as many people as any report on scientific data.

GEOlino, a German science magazine for children, decided to play — literally — with that idea.

Meltdown GameMeltdown Game

Meltdown game. Photo: GEOlino

Meltdown is a cooperative board game in which you and your fellow players act quickly to save the polar bears, moving them before the ice melts beneath them. What sets the game apart is that the ice is actually melting. The game includes a silicon ice cube tray which is then flipped over onto a sort of spongy surface, and then players race to move the bears before the ice is gone. It’s a terrific way to convey the sense of urgency without using a timer or soundtrack, and I think it’s a great gimmick for a game. Unfortunately, Meltdown isn’t available in stores yet — the first edition was made just for schools and the designers of the game have started looking for an industrial producer to make the game more widely available.

So far there’s not much more about the game than a short blurb and a video. There are some nice photos but nothing that explains specifically how you play the game. Personally, I find it somewhat morbid that the end space of the game is simply a larger ice cube that will also eventually melt away. And does it make sense to play a game about climate change with a board that requires a freezer each time you play it?

The concept isn’t perfect. But it doesn’t change the fact that when I first came across the video, I had my own visceral reaction, as a board gamer: I want to play that!

Visit the official website to watch the video.

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