Alchemy is a single-player military strategy game. You control a nation that starts out with only a smattering of resources, used to design and build units called golems.
Golems are your path to survival in this hostile, unique and completely random world. Use your golems to mine for more resources, explore the map, fight wars, and dig entire oceans.
The resources you use on each golem determines its strength and ability. Whenever you build a new golem, you specify how much of each resource you want to spend on your new unit. You can build a bunch of small, cheap soldiers, or you could build a couple monsterous, expensive golems. Different resources give different abilities: grass allows healing, while uranium deals ranged damage and lead offers massive hit points.
My book Half-Earth Socialism (Verso 2022), co-authored with historian Troy Vettese, is what the Viennese polymath Otto Neurath would have called a 'scientific utopia'. For Neurath, utopian thinking was a thought experiment bounded by material constraints. Similarly, Half-Earth Socialism is an ambitious speculation on possible futures, which calls for the end of the fossil fuel era, sovereign Indigenous nationhood, nature preserves covering half the Earth, and drastic social changes such as widespread veganism and the end to private car ownership. While such ideas may seem outlandish, they are predicated on a robust scientific foundation.
Yet, our vision is hardly the only one worth considering. There are a great number of solutions that could address environmental crisis (with varying success). For example a planner could combine the technical solutions of BECCs, geoengineering, fast-breeder reactors, and space travel with equally eclectic social policies—say, an ecofeminist curriculum and a one-child policy— to create a wide array of different futures. We don't agree with some of the options in the game, but do our best to simulate them fairly based on the scientific literature.
Our game, Half-Earth Socialism, allows anyone to try their hand as a global planner of a future society. Consider it a sandbox where you can play with a wide range of technologies and policies spanning different fields and ideologies. The game simulates the impact of your decisions by calculating emissions and using a real climate model (HECTOR) to work out the climate effects, while also simulating impacts to the food system and biodiversity, among others.
This game, which is inspired by our book Half-Earth Socialism, is the fruit of the labour of many designers, researchers, and artists (please see credits for details). Francis Tseng (Jain Family Institute) is the game developer and Son La Pham (TRUST) is the designer.
Good luck, and may your plans succeed in providing the good life for all while avoiding the worst of the environmental crisis! For more information, visit the book homepage, where you can also play the game for free in your browser (mobile/desktop both supported)!