Using Video Games To Build A Sustainable World!

Video games are grappling with the concept of environmental and climate change, just like other forms of media. In recent years, there has been a noticeable change in the depiction of virtual landscapes, with games like Anthem and Battlefield 2042 showcasing geo-engineered and weather-beaten environments.

Video Games

A subgenre called eco-horror has emerged, with games like Death Stranding featuring a pristine United States interrupted by monstrous creatures made of a fictional oil-like substance called chiralium.

Games have the potential to go beyond portraying climate disasters and instead offer new ideas and actions for how humans can relate to nature and can address climate change.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is a modest yet beautifully executed intervention, a game that occupies a similar tonal space to the growing body of children’s books that engage with environmentalism and the climate crisis.

Alba’s landscape in the game created by Fernández Huerta reflects his emotional connection to his Iberian home and the importance of reclaiming nature. The game is both educational and engaging, with a cute aesthetic that prevents it from feeling overly instructional.

The story revolves around a mayor and a property developer who want to build a hotel on a wildlife reserve. The protagonist needs to collect signatures for a petition to stop this development, making the story a lesson in political activism.

Video games provide a unique platform for discussing climate issues and engaging with a large audience. Playing for the Planet, a United Nations initiative, has organized workshops for game companies to create environmentally themed games and has published a report on how to incorporate sustainability into game development.

The main focus of these efforts is the belief that video games can educate and inspire individuals to be more environmentally conscious. In essence, video games can serve as modern-day moral lessons, similar to Aesop’s fables.

Not all eco-games are so fantastical. Many are grounded in reality and can help restore a sense of control in a world that is increasingly anxiety-inducing.

Some eco-games are realistic and can help restore a sense of control in a world that is increasingly anxiety-inducing. Like in The Green New Deal Simulator (2023) a gamer takes on the role of a government secretary and have to implement real-world technologies and policies like wind and solar farms and the rollout of EV infrastructure, to reduce carbon emissions.

If unemployment reaches a certain level, the government fails, and if zero emissions aren’t achieved by 2050, the country is in trouble. The game demonstrates how familiar policies and technologies can be effectively combined to address climate change, making a seemingly overwhelming problem feel more manageable.

The climate crisis in 2023 led to severe floods, wildfires, and droughts, causing numerous problems such as food scarcity, displacement, economic instability, and conflict. As a result, video games, including those created by big companies that usually avoid controversial topics, are expected to become more radical in their approach.
In short, video games can function like Aesop’s fables of Ancient Greece—as tools of moral instruction.

Reference- Atmos story, National Geographic, United Nations website, Websites of Respective Games, New Horizon, The Guardian, World History Encyclopedia