Green Media Studies

Ecogames. Playful Perspectives on the Climate Crisis (2024)

Ecogames. Playful Perspectives on the Climate Crisis
Edited by Laura op de Beke, Joost Raessens,
Stefan Werning and Gerald Farca

© Amsterdam University Press 2024

The book is available open-access via the website of Amsterdam University Press.

Concept of the Book

This edited volume builds on the growing body of scholarship that explores the phenomenon of ecogames and aims to situate it within the field of the environmental humanities and, more specifically, green media studies, moving beyond its initial focus on environmental cinema, documentaries, and television. With the climate crisis and its short-term repercussions becoming more and more ‘tangible,’ videogames are increasingly participating in the production, circulation, and questioning of environmental assumptions. Whether they are providing new spaces to practice alternative ways of living, or reproducing ecomodernist fantasies, videogames as well as player cultures are increasingly tuned in to the most pressing environmental concerns.

The book aims to demonstrate the variety of ways in which environmental questions, hopes, and concerns surface in videogames and player cultures, the different roles they can play in fomenting ecological awareness and activism, as well as the ethical, political, and aesthetic pitfalls that continue to challenge such examples of ludic engagement.

Figure 1: Conceptual overview of the Ecogames book

To accommodate this diversity, as well as the diversity in the range of approaches and viewpoints apparent in environmental videogame scholarship, the book comprises four sections (see Figure 1). We consider these four sections to cover the scope of the entire field, from gaming to metagaming (IV), i.e. using games for purposes other than playing by the rules, from the human to nonhuman (III) dimensions, and from contemporary challenges (I) to sustainable future imaginaries (II).

Table of Contents

Ecogames: An Introduction
Laura op de Beke, Joost Raessens, and Stefan Werning

Part I: Games for Change

  1. Change for Games: On Sustainable Design Patterns for the (Digital) Future
    Alenda Y. Chang
  2. Do You Want to Set the World on Fire? Amplifying Player Agency to Demonstrate Alternatives to the Climate Crisis
    Péter Kristóf Makai
  3. Between the Lines: Using Differential Game Analysis to Develop Environmental Thinking
    Hans-Joachim Backe
  4. A Dynamic Engagement Model to Provide Ecological Awareness of the Climate Crisis through Video Games
    Thomas Bjørner and Henrik Schønau-Fog
  5. Postcoloniality, Ecocriticism and Lessons from the Playable Landscape
    Soraya Murray
  6. No Cyclones in Age of Empires: Empire, Ecology and Videogames
    Souvik Mukherjee
  7. Games for Better Futures: The Art and Joy of Making and Unmaking Societies
    Joost M. Vervoort, Carien Moossdorff, and Kyle A. Thompson

Part II: Future Worlds

  1. Climate—Game—Worlds: A Media-Aesthetic Look at the Depiction and Function of Climate in Computer Games
    Birgit Schneider and Sebastian Möring
  2. Healing the Self, Humanity, and the Earth: Slowness and Ecosophy in Death Stranding
    Víctor Navarro-Remesal and Mateo Terrasa Torres
  3. Ecology in the Post-Apocalypse: Regenerative Play in the Metro Series and the Critical Dystopia
    Gerald Farca
  4. There is No Planet B: A Milieu-Specific Analysis of Outer Wilds’ Unstable Spaces
    Lauren Woolbright
  5. Green New Worlds? Ecology and Energy in Planetary Colonization Games
    Paweł Frelik
  6. Dark Play and the Flow Time of Petroculture in Oil-themed Games
    Laura op de Beke
  7. The Potential and Limitations of Diving Ecogames: A Content Analysis and Reception Study of Abzû
    Gabrielle Trépanier-Jobin, Maeva Charre-Tchang, and Sylvie Largeaud-Ortega

Part III: The Non-Human Turn

  1. “Have you ever heard a worm sing?” The Spectral Ecology of Kentucky Route Zero, Act V
    Jordan Youngblood
  2. Hiding (in) the Tall Grass: Rethinking Background Assets in Videogame Plantscapes
    Merlin Seller
  3. Symbiosis, or How to Make Kin in the Chthulucene
    Joost Raessens
  4. Mutate or Die: Neo-Lamarckian Ecogames and Responsible Evolution
    Colin Milburn
  5. No Man’s Game: The Infinite Boredom of Procedurally Generated Environments
    Paolo Ruffino
  6. Trans Ecologies in Digital Games and Contemporary Art
    micha cárdenas
  7. The Earth’s Prognosis: Doom and Transformation in Game Design
    Kara Stone

Part IV: Critical Metagaming Practices

  1. What Do We (NDNs) Do with Games?
    Jordan Clapper
  2. Imagining the Future: Game Hacking and Youth Climate Action
    Chloé Germaine and Paul Wake
  3. Re-framing the Backlog: Radical Slowness and Patient Gaming
    Rainforest Scully-Blaker
  4. Material Infrastructures of Play: How the Games Industry Reimagines Itself in the Face of Climate Crisis
    Sonia Fizek
  5. Sustainable Fandom: Responsible Consumption and Play in Game Communities
    Nicolle Lamerichs
  6. A Field Guide to Monsters: Practices of Wildlife Watching in Video Games
    Melissa Bianchi
  7. Remediating Green Practices: Landscape Photography and Nature Documentary Filmmaking in Videogames
    Stefan Werning