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This article has been written for the online newspaper on environmental communication, Envi.info, published on 03/08/2015. The Italian version of this article is also available via the original link .

AUTHOR: Giulia Basilici

LANGUAGE: English

Do you remember the popular Choose Your Own Adventure books we used to read as children? You were in charge of what happened in the story –yes, you! You became the director deciding characters’ actions and how the plot should continue. Today, Envi.info introduces you to the new web documentary Climate under pressure. It follows the same principle: Climate under pressure is an interactive documentary experience letting you observe the local and global impacts of climate changes and giving you control over the climate stories and destinies of six protagonists around the world. Ready, Set…Go!

A few days ahead of the 2015 United Nations (COP21) in Paris, TV5 Québec Canada in co-production with TV5MONDE presented this interactive web doc calling users to role-play and act against global warming; the experience has also been endorsed by some leading environmental experts and has received the official recognition from the COP21 itself and from the French Minister of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, Ségolène Royal.

Interactive stories

The homepage already sets the tone, with its deep, gloomy colors: wee see abandoned, extremely polluted, destroyed cities and rural areas. A scenario not so far-fetched? But let’s just move on…Before your eyes, six adventures in six different Countries (the time to complete the game is also indicated, for you workaholics!) You are now living the life of the protagonist: Michelle, Li Wei, Pai… – pick the one you feel closer to you or to your current mood. Your choices have the power to shape characters’ fate; click anywhere to let the story move forward. Discover thematic insights through interactive pop-up videos and articles disseminated in the narrative thread. The animation is really well designed. You can see the story going like in a cartoon, with dialogues and scenes. Soon you’re asked to make choices: the documentary ups the engagement factor by letting you answer and decide the course of the story. The focus here is we are asked to choose and to find solutions in somewhat close to real life. How would the story end?

Compelling themes

Climate under pressure, besides being a smart and engaging environmental communication product, also offers a wealth of information on climate changes and how these affect major sectors of human activity, as well as solutions we can put into practice -both collectively and individually- to eradicate the scourge of global warming. In all, four major themes: Human impacts and solutions, Political concerns, Scientific facts and Personal issues covering consumption, agriculture, urban development, economy, energy, health and transports. After the game, we are invited to discover some additional contents in thematic files – extremely interesting, brief, useful.

One minus: it seems you can’t click forward and jump ahead with the story if you get bored. Yes, you really have to click and follow the plot. We think this mean something – it is symbolic: we often do not want to “know it all” and prefer imagining a lighter version of whatever this big changes may bring. Time to prove us wrong. Thanks to this web documentary – a great engagement tool.