The OFFSET video game was designed to teach children the basics of the carbon cycle in a fun and engaging way. The game play is a mix of Pong, Breakout, and RTS. The game has a retro-art style, and uses Game Center, so that players can compare scores with each other.

The object of the game is to prevent CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, this greenhouse gas will trap heat and cause the Earth to warm. If the temperature rises too much, the player loses the game.

The area the player is keeping watch over, however, releases a lot of CO2 from power plants and cars. To increase the difficulty, forests (which remove CO2 from the atmosphere) are disappearing, causing the CO2 that is released to linger. If the player doesn't act fast, it may become impossible to prevent all of the molecules from escaping.

There are blocker paddles to prevent the CO2 from escaping through the top of the screen. The player must also upgrade technology on the ground and re-grow the forests. A player wins when all CO2 is cleared from the screen. If the player cannot prevent the CO2 from escaping, the temperature will rise too much, the game is over, and the player loses.

This work was done by Alex H. Kasprak, Kyle J. Mansfield, and Nancy J. Leon of Caltech for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This software is available for license through the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and you may request a license here . NPO-49582


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This article first appeared in the July, 2018 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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