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"You think, you scheme, you rub your chin, you decide on your plan, you cast the die and then the game tells you fucked up, and the walrus is dead."

You can jump, you can shoot, but can you tackle CO2 emissions?

Fate of the World is a computer strategy game developed by a British indie company in cooperation with Oxford University. It is an Earth simulator where the player tries to ward off the worst effects of climate change. It may be the first commercial title of its kind ever since Balance of the Planet (1990).

The game has been receiving a lot of attention, in part because its success might demonstrate the potential of video games as a medium, and in part because a planet sim sounds really nifty. Unfortunately, it seems to lack some options that were visible in early previews: banning private car ownership, mandatory euthanasia at 65, vat-grown plastics. In 2011, an expansion 'Tipping Point' was released, allowing migration, and adding an easy mode.

Fate of the World contains examples of:

  • Zero-Percent Approval Rating: When this happens, you get booted out of a region for a couple of decades. Get booted out of too many, or get kicked out of the one with your HQ in it, and it's Game Over.
  • Artificial Stupidity: If a region breaks away from the GEO and returns to self-governance it will often be in civil war and possibly famine by the time they come crawling back, expecting you to fix everything.
  • AI Is a Crapshoot: Your AI research can eventually result in the birth of a rogue AI named Thanatos, which infiltrates all of the governments and militaries of the world.
    • The Computer Is Your Friend: Thanatos is actually pretty good for keeping the world under your full control, so long as you're on top of things. If you lose your grip on the global temperature, though, it will salvage the situation by wiping out humanity.
  • Apathetic Citizens: People in consumerist regions are more concerned about the economy than reducing emissions.
  • Apocalypse How: Regional, Continental, or Planetary all the way from Class One (in the longer scenarios this is generally considered a victory) to Class Four.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: "Synthetic feedstocks," a card that uses 22nd-century nanotechnology to create materials normally derived from fossil fuels. It's the last step in stopping the use of fossil fuels completely. It also takes ludicrous amounts of energy. By the point you can afford it, you'll have replaced fossil fuel power plants with crazy future space solar satellites, and fossil fuels are already a side note.
    • Fusion power. Again, if you can do fusion, you can do solar power satellites, and those will solve your power problems forever.
    • Colonizing Mars.
  • Bread and Circuses: The Disinformation card.
  • Boring but Practical: Cards like Cap and Trade, better construction and industrial codes, and subsidies for residential energy efficiency.
  • Crapsack World: The world when you fail (humanity is devastated by floods, food shortages, etc) and perhaps when you succeed.
  • Cool Starship: The Star Ark, full of human, animal and plant DNA and everything necessary to start the world anew among the stars, which requires most of the technologies, a functioning space program and $2000 (for comparison, more than the total taxable GDP of the world in 2020) to launch, but instantly wins the game no-matter conditions on Earth.
  • Dug Too Deep: In the oil shortage and global warming scenarios, you will learn to despise those deep pockets of frozen methane.
  • Depopulation Bomb / Synthetic Plague: The gene-plagues, which are even available in multiple different flavours depending on exactly what percentage of the population you wish to exterminate.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: On the Easy mode only, which adjusts to your skill level as you play.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: You can save the world from climate change, and actually make overall improvements to the world's standards of living and technology. It's going to take you several doomed Earths though.
  • For the Evulz: In the final release, there is a scenario called "Dr. Apocalypse," whose goal is to destroy the world and do everything you can to push it over the edge rather than save it. Interestingly, causing massive depopulation is not enough to get a negative score.
  • Gaia's Lament: The world by 2200 in a less successful game.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Of the passive/non-supernatural variety.
  • Government Conspiracy: You can carry these out. They are usually of the "putting contraceptives/poison in the water" and "artificial plague" variety.
  • Green Aesop: The purpose of the game is to increase awareness of global warming.
  • Global Warming: Of the slow, encroaching death kind rather than the Hollywood mile high tidal waves kind.
  • Guide Dang It: Some elements of the game, in particular the later-game, more abstract technologies and policies are difficult to understand without a guide. See also Useless Item.
  • Hope Sprouts Eternal: the icon for "Eco-awareness campaign" is a single green shoot.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Some of the measures that you can take to win the scenarios will indeed help you win, but at the cost of losing massive amounts of popularity.
  • I Love Nuclear Power: The game allows you to pursue a policy of developing breeder reactors to soften a region's reliance on oil and fossil fuels.
  • Instant Win Condition: Temperature 4.6 degrees above pre-industrial levels, but only have five years to go? Banned from three nations, and about to lose support in the headquarters region? Nuclear war but you still have over 8 billion people? Don't worry, if you can get all the research, and finish the space factory and you can launch a probe filled with human DNA into a random spot in space (after canceling all your programs keeping the world alive to afford the thing) and you win!
  • It's Up to You: As the head of GEO you are essentially solely responsible for the future of mankind. No one else will help or advise you, and left to their own devices the populations of the various regions will make little attempt to save themselves without your direct guidance (for example, subsidising them to switch to renewable energy when they cannot acquire enough fossil fuels for even basic industry or agriculture).
  • Killer Robot: The Security AI probably uses these, since it fights against human militants and has the power to limit human freedom.
  • Meaningful Name: Thanatos, the Ancient Greek personification of death.
  • Media Watchdog: Presumably the reason for the aforementioned forced eugenics eventually being cut, after a few critical articles.
    • Though for for some reason the Gene-plagues and Sterilisation stayed in.
  • Nintendo Hard: Playing this game can almost make you feel sorry for the world's politicians dealing with these issues. The expansion Tipping Point added an easy mode.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: Cutting the world's population to a fourth? Not a problem, as long as the HDI stays high enough. Get caught trying to put more spies in a country, though, and it's game over.
  • Not Completely Useless: The card to shift a country back to a Consumerist outlook can theoretically be useful with a certain style of play, for example Consumerist regions support geoengineering that will allow business to go on as usual like stratospheric aerosols whereas Green regions see it as an easy and dangerous way out.
  • Nuclear Option: Regional nuclear wars are possible if an anarchic region in civil war has nuclear fast breeder technology, which have devastating consequences but do not end the game, or global nuclear wars if this happens in more than one region, which do.
  • Population Control
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Most likely your first few 'successful' games.
  • Red Herring: The "Cornucopia" and "Denial" missions feature the option to research cold fusion. It does nothing.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Some technologies that take around a hundred years to research (for example artificial trees) already exist today.
  • Regime Change: One of your Black Ops cards. Hey, it might work it might not.
  • Sinister Surveillance: Security AI, your one-stop source for peace and quiet.
  • Slave to PR: You, all the time, every time.
  • Sterility Plague: Illegal black ops allow you to bypass the unpopularity of the controversial One Child Policy by simply secretly poisoning the region with a sterility plague instead.
  • Shown Their Work: The in-game wiki, as well as the detailed statistics available on every possible metric of each region, based on real world stats (at the beginning of the game).
  • Tech Tree: In five different areas which can be prioritised.
    • Interface Spoiler: All the technologies in the game are shown, along with exactly how long it will take to reach them at the current research level (leading to some ridiculous numbers if the tech tree is viewed in an underdeveloped region).
  • Used Future: Preserving, or returning the world's living conditions to the current first-world level after the fuel crisis is often impossible for inexperienced players.
  • Useless Item / Cool but Inefficient: The Mars Mission and Mars Colony, which are semi-costly but both currently do nothing whether they succeed or fail, as confirmed by the game code. It's not known whether they'll ever be fixed or not.
    • The SETI Array gives you a slim chance of getting in touch with aliens, but gives no gameplay benefits and contact is always lost after a few turns.
  • Utopia: Play your cards right and by 2200, there's no war or hunger, the world's population is stable and slowly declining, education is universal and the lowest life expectancy is 82, solar power satellites and fusion have solved energy scarcity, industries run on nanobots and better than ever, anyone who tries to break away gets a face full of security AI, and the atmosphere is slowly being purified.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The various black ops cards, not to mention the crueller legitimate cards (like the One Child Policy).
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can save various endangered species from their otherwise inevitable extinction through the right policies, though this can distract from trying to save the most possible humans.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: None of the possible atrocities are necessary, and most are counterproductive. They're there because you can't hand people an Earth simulator and not expect them to go crazy. The developers oblige to the point that there's an achievement for lowering global population below 100 million.
    • One Steam achievement can be earned by plunging the entire world into a thermonuclear war in the shortest possible time.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The player is the chairman of the world's main environmental organization, dependent on public approval and governments' funding. Playing the Dr. Apocalypse scenario changes nothing about this.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Political & Black Ops category of cards.
  • What If: In the "Cornucopia" mission, fossil fuel deposits are practically bottomless, but emissions are a very real problem. (Conventional oil WILL still run dry, though.) In "Denial," human activity doesn't cause climate change, but fossil fuels are scarce.
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