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Oil Discovered on the Island of Catan
Worldwatch Institute, Catan GmbH, Mayfair Games, and Kosmos partner to produce Catan: Oil Springs, a sustainability educational scenario for the award-winning game The Settlers of Catan
from Worldwatch Institute


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Editor’s Note from Michelle Gregg, ATH Senior Editor: I don’t know about your family, but mine loves to play the board game Catan. And if you’re an eco-friendly family, you’ll love this new addition to the The Settlers of Catan version called Catan: Oil Springs, just in time for holiday gifting. Worldwatch, Catan, Mayfair Games and Kosmos have come to together to create a truly educational experience around oil and fossil fuel dependence that gives players the power to choose to be environmentally conscious once oil is discovered  (for which they receive points for being a “Champion of the Environment”) or to move forward with fossil-fuel dependence and all the problems that go with it. An ingenious way to teach kids, teens, and parents alike about the reality of our culture’s oil dependence.


Washington, D.C.----Recognizing the value of making sustainability education fun and engaging, the Transforming Cultures project at the Worldwatch Institute has worked with Catan GmbH, Mayfair Games, and Franckh-Kosmos Verlag to develop Catan: Oil Springs as a non-profit scenario for the award-winning board game The Settlers of Catan, produced in 30 languages.


Catan oil Token
Oil Token Used in Catan: Oil Springs
The scenario integrates a new resource into the mix----oil----and brings with it the opportunity for players to develop significantly faster, but not without risking industrial pollution and disasters such as coastal flooding triggered by climate change. Other sustainability challenges, including issues of development disparity, the resource curse, and limits to growth are integrated seamlessly into the game, where players struggle with whether they should use oil to grow even as they risk undermining the productivity of their lands and even risk inundation of the entire island of Catan.


In the scenario, there also are opportunities to take oil out of production permanently and thereby protect Catan from further ecological damage while gaining points for being "Champion of the Environment."  

9 Piece
The desert and two other hexes on Catan now produce oil.
"Ultimately, humanity will need to move away from fossil fuels in order to prevent potentially catastrophic changes to Earth's systems, including the climate," said Erik Assadourian, co-author of the scenario and director of the Transforming Cultures project at Worldwatch. "This game shows the extreme difficulty in prioritizing long-term well-being and security when there is so much pressure to maximize short-term growth-an essential lesson in today's growth-obsessed culture."


Champion Token
The Champion of the Environment Token. The first player to take three oil tokens out of production gains two points. 
Benjamin Teuber, who supervised the editorial work from the side of Catan GmbH, liked the idea from the beginning. "Catan's philosophy has always been at its core to deal with a limited amount of resources in a sustainable and responsible way," he said. "The use of oil has brought great benefits with it. However, responsible usage has become more important than ever for all of us, and we hope to convey that concept in both an informative and entertaining way in this scenario."


The scenario, written by Erik Assadourian and Ty Hansen, is an opportunity for Worldwatch to expand awareness of key sustainability issues to a much broader audience----The Settlers of Catan has 18 million copies in production worldwide----and allows Catan players to wrestle personally with issues that often seem difficult to grapple with. With agreement of Catan GmbH, Mayfair Games, and Kosmos, sales of the cardboard version of this scenario will be used to cover the expenses of graphics and printing. Further profits will support Worldwatch's Transforming Cultures project.


Catan: Oil Springs is being released today in Essen, Germany, at Spiel '11, the world's biggest board game convention. In order to distribute this scenario as widely as possible, it will be available free for download at www.oilsprings.catan.com. A German translation is also available on the site, as well as Educators' Resources and purchase information for those who want a printed copy.



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About Erik Assadourian
Senior Fellow and Director State of the World 2010


Erik Assadourian is a Senior Fellow at Worldwatch Institute where he has studied cultural change, consumerism, ecological ethics, corporate responsibility, and sustainable communities, over the past 10 years. Most recently, Erik directed State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability. This report, bringing together 60 leading sustainability thinkers and published in 14 languages, spreads the idea that for humanity to bring about a secure future, we will need to intentionally and proactively transform cultural norms so that living sustainably feels as natural as living as a consumer feels today.


Erik also maintains the Transforming Cultures project blog, which continues to explore new innovative ways to bring about a culture of sustainability. His latest adventure is creating a climate change scenario for the popular board game Settlers of Catan, which he hopes will allow players to grapple personally with the difficulties of climate change politics. He is also now co-directing the upcoming State of the World 2012: A New Architecture for Sustainable Prosperity.


During his time at Worldwatch, Erik has also directed two editions of Vital Signs, Worldwatch’s annual analysis of sustainability trends, co-directed State of the World 2005: Rethinking Global Security, and led a two-year research project on sustainable communities. Over the years Erik has been interviewed by media around the world and has traveled extensively to communicate his research.


Before joining Worldwatch, Erik learned environmental organizing as a fellow with Green Corps, and worked as a Toxics and Environmental Health Field Organizer with U.S. PIRG. He graduated from Dartmouth College with majors in Psychology and Religion modified with Anthropology.




About World Watch Institute

The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization recognized by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. The Institute's three main program areas include Climate & Energy, Food & Agriculture, and the Green Economy.


Worldwatch has catalyzed effective environmental decision making since 1974. The Institute's interdisciplinary research is based on the best available science and focuses on the challenges that climate change, resource degradation, and population growth pose for meeting human needs in the 21st century. Worldwatch seeks innovative solutions to intractable problems, emphasizing a blend of government leadership, private sector enterprise, and citizen action that can make a sustainable future a reality.


Based in Washington, D.C., Worldwatch leverages its Internet presence and strong network of partners in more than a dozen countries for global impact. Its research is disseminated in over 20 languages through innovative use of print and online media.


For more information visit:
www.worldwatch.org, www.srfood.org and blogs.worldwatch.org/nourishingtheplanet.



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