The games (they cost a neat $10 each) are the offspring of some heavy studies the USI people—mostly Harvard and MIT types—have been doing for government and business aimed at unraveling the environmental snafus afflicting these overcast days. An innovative way to share their findings, they reasoned, was through games that allow the players to assume the identities of those held accountable for pollution.
In DIRTY WATER, for example, players are water-pollution control officials and are given the job of managing a lake. Playing pieces bear the likeness of the various slippery and squiggly things that inhabit or infest our nation's waters, and players do their damnedest to keep some sort of sane balance among amoebas, rotifers and sun-fish while turbid scum and herbicides ooze in from every side. SMOG players are called air-quality managers, and after a few agonizing rounds confronting a plethora of peroxides and aldehydes and voters with vested interests, the participants start thinking how they will themselves vote come next election day, not to mention what kind of letters to fire off to their Congressmen in the meantime.
Wider in concept than the others, ECOLOGY lets players experience evolution from Prehistoric Rustic to 20th-century Technocrat—and all the ecosystem headaches man is heir to along the way. One leaves the game board slightly in awe—and with a somewhat greater understanding and respect for the fragile web we often so callously abuse. One wins, in effect, whether one loses on the board or not.