Satirical boardgame challenges oil industry in run-up to Christmas

By staff writers
December 19, 2010

As Christmas approaches, a new satirical boardgame has been launched about the global oil industry. Greenpeace International have made the game – called Deepsea Desperation - downloadable from their website.

“Spending this holiday season challenging the might of the global oil industry might seem a little odd,” said Greenpeace in a tongue-in-cheek statement, “But now you can at least do it from the comfort of your living room”.

The game has been created by designers Terror Bull Games and released under a Creative Commons license. Greenpeace say that it satirises and dramatises the battle to protect the Arctic from the oil industry.

Players are able to choose sides – as oil giants or Greenpeace activists. They can also “tremble as mighty oil rigs explore the ocean”, “thrill” as the rigs are occupied by activists, “wince” as oil spills across the board and “weep” as species are wiped out.

The game is all about Greenpeace’s campaign against Big Oil, with one player struggling to establish marine reserves in the very territory the other player wants to exploit. Through a mix of strategic lobbying, oil exploration, direct action and reserve creation, one player will triumph.

But Greenpeace give a warning to those who play the part of the oil industry. They say that if they cause too many blowouts, they will have to face the prospect of marine disaster, a mock Twitter account handling their PR, pictures of dead animals in the world’s media, and billions in damages to pay. And if a species falls extinct, all sides lose.

The reality of Greenpeace's warning to the real oil industry is, of course, only thinly veiled.

“We wanted to offer our supporters a gift that’s a little different this year,” said Martin Lloyd, Marketing Communications Manager at Greenpeace International, “So here’s something you can print out and play using coins and dice. It’s fun to play and it gives a guilt-free opportunity to see what happens if you put massive corporate profits ahead of environmental health.”

It is perhaps no coincidence that the game has been published in a year in which long-standing concerns about offshore drilling were realised when a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico triggered the worst oil spill in US history, devastating the marine environment.

Greenpeace is continuing to campaign against reckless offshore drilling, including occupying an exploratory drilling rig off the coast of Greenland; subsequently Greenpeace swimmers spent several days blocking a drilling ship off the coast of the Shetland Islands. The NGO is calling for a ban on new offshore drilling and the establishment of marine reserves – national parks at sea, closed to fishing and industry – across 40 per cent of the world’s oceans. 

The Deepsea Desperation game can be downloaded at:


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