Assume the role of mayor, make policy decisions and examine their impacts on the urban environment and population in a game designed to spark conversations about sustainability.

Shapetopia is a virtual city in an interactive program conceived by Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) students to explore how sustainable choices weave together to affect the quality of life in a society.

“Our overarching purpose was to get students to think about sustainability more broadly than just theSource: CMUSource: CMU environment," said Alexandra Hiniker, director of Sustainability Initiatives at CMU. “Through the [UN] Global Goals, we know that many aspects of society contribute to sustainability. Poverty, hunger, good health and social justice all factor in, so we wanted to design a game that encouraged players to think about these issues and the importance of finding equitable solutions."

As mayor, the player can enact policies that reflect sustainability goals, such as building more public schools, investing in railway station construction or promoting clean energy development and consumption.

The student developers plan to issue a playable version in the coming weeks, and for development to continue through the summer until the free game is finalized in late summer or early fall.

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com