These are some papers I have done during my Masters which provides insight as to why I think using fiction is important. Over these papers, I have explored why the news media is not enough in tackling an issue as complex as climate change and how useful fiction can be in supplementing these methods. I have talked about all types of fiction throughout various papers including books, films, video games and tv shows. Some of which are still in progress and be added when complete.
Climate Fiction Mediums:
An Exploratory Look into Engagement and Empathy of Written and Gaming Storytelling
Fiction has been shown to be an effective way to communicate about complex issues such as climate change. This is achieved by engaging the audience through their emotions from the narrative of the story. Written stories and games are two mediums that are particularly promising as ways to inspire change of attitudes and behaviour. To investigate the effects of the medium of storytelling on engagement, two versions of the same story were created, a written short story and a 3D first-person exploratory computer game. The story was created with a climate narrative but was meant to engage the audience emotionally through themes of family relationships and loss. Participants answered open-ended questions about narrative engagement following reading the story or playing the game. The written story engaged the readers through their imagination and allowed for more mystery due to interiority. It was also the more accessible medium, and the simplicity of the storytelling added to that. The game engaged players through sensory inputs by use of images, background noise and music. However, the game was more difficult for participants to finish, especially for non-gamers. Overall, it appeared most of the emotional engagement came from the narrative of the story itself, not any aspects of the medium. However, barriers to engagement were revealed through the game version, suggesting that narrative presence and attentional focus can be hindered due to the execution of the medium.
Fictions of Climate Change: Communicating Through Literature, Film, and Games For Wide Societal Change
Despite the massive influx of climate change communication, the level of greenhouse gases entering our atmosphere has increased and the perception of risks from the population has decreased. This calls into question the effectiveness of relying on increasing public knowledge to create actual societal changes. People are feeling disengaged with the issue and experiencing what is known as “climate fatigue”. With the many challenges related to communicating about climate change, fiction may be one method that could help overcome some of these hurdles and influence people’s behaviour. Fiction has been shown to be very persuasive in changing people’s attitudes and beliefs about the real world. It can create empathy towards the people of the future who will be dealing with the worst impacts by seeing the world through their eyes. It allows for people to consume the information in a more passive way, rather than the analytical way we view non-fiction and accept the information more easily. Literature, film and games are discussed as mediums for fictional storytelling about the future of our world. While climate fiction has gained popularity over the years, I theorise that it can be improved in two ways. First by informing the creators of these pieces about the challenges of climate change communication so they can best address them. Second to implement these creations more subtly into mainstream entertainment so that the message reaches those that might be already disengaged.
Climate Change Communication on Television:
Beyond the News
This essay argues that television shows meant to represent our modern world do a poor job of illustrating the scope of the very real threat of climate change. This essay argues that implementing subtle climate narratives could be helpful in getting through clear and consistent messaging about climate change to a wider audience. With the many barriers to climate change communication, existing research demonstrates that communicating through fiction can have a powerful impact on engaging people on a deeper level. Television has been shown to influence people on a variety of topics and therefore is a tool that can be used to aid in getting people more engaged with the issue. The present study suggests several ways in which climate narratives could be added to the storylines of all types of shows in a seamless way to not disrupt the feel of the program. It argues that using television to convey climate messages could be a way of gently introducing those disengaged with the topic back into the conversation in a non-threatening way.