Understanding climate change through video games

Understanding climate change through video games

With the evolution of the videogame as a medium capable of expressing concepts and conveying points of view and contents, it is natural that the themes expand and also include profound and important topics, even of pressing topicality such as ecology, once again one of the main videogame themes for some years now. Considering that these are products usually designed for a more or less young audience, video games can be seen as a very effective system for presenting impactful themes regarding the present and the future of the environment, using an entertainment system for more educational purposes.

However, this does not necessarily mean relying on strictly educational software, or edutainment and even so-called serious games, to be able to convey contents relating to ecology, environmentalism or simply to present the threat posed from global warming and climate change. There are many titles that are halfway between documentary, educational material and video game, but in this case we want to concentrate rather on those products that can be considered real games, characterized however by a strong educational imprint as regards the respect of environment and the risks deriving from its unregulated exploitation.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

A landscape of Alba: A Wildlife Adventure More than climate change, the theme of Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is rather respect for the ecosystem and a sort of denunciation against the uncontrolled exploitation of the territory for economic and commercial purposes, but the themes are so intertwined that they fall within the same vein.

Alba is a girl who returns after years to the Mediterranean island where she spent her summers as a child, but she discovers that this is about to be deeply upset by the construction of a gigantic hotel with attached tourist resort, in place of the nature reserve which covered much of the area. This leads the protagonist and her friend Ines to try to oppose the construction of this eco-monster, relying on the inhabitants of the island to make the most of what is the real treasure of this: its natural environment.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is a simple game, based on small puzzles to solve and assorted mini-games that emerge as we try to fix various problems scattered around the island, winning in exchange for signatures to add to the petition to block work on the hotel, but it is a real summer immersion in the nature of a Mediterranean island. Between youth empowerment and naturalistic notions on the animal and plant species present, the game perfectly manages to make people understand how respect for nature is the basis of a healthy vital balance for the ecosystem, as we see in our review of Alba: A Wildlife Adventure.

Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue takes us to explore the ocean floor to discover nature and the difficult relationship with man Another game dominated by the sea, Beyond Blue is positioned in a much more clear on the border between videogame and scientific documentary, given the amount of knowledge and information that can be drawn on life in the marine and oceanic environment. The game leads us to interpret Mirai, a marine biologist, researcher aboard a science fiction submarine for underwater exploration. From this base we leave for various sorties in the Pacific Ocean, to discover the species present and also trying to investigate radio signals and traces of an irresponsible exploitation of the soil that puts the existence of the complex oceanic ecosystem at risk. In all this there is also space for different narrative lines that also concern the life of the doctor and her relationships with other characters, but the predominant element remains the sea and its precious environment to be preserved.

In addition to the Numerous information that the game provides through in-game cards and dialogues on fish and various living beings, Beyond Blue also uses documentary clips to connect more directly to reality and illustrate different aspects of nature in the underwater environment, referring in particular to footage taken from from Blue Planet II, produced by the BBC.

Precisely this refined fusion between documentary and videogame is the fundamental basis of this product, developed in collaboration by E-Line Media and BBC, with the desire to experience the didactic implications of what remains a real video game, focusing particularly on the need to find a balance between land use and marine ecosystem. You can get to know him better in our Beyond Blue review.

Bee Simulator

Bee Simulator shows us the relationship between nature and man from an unprecedented and impactful perspective Something very special is offered by Bee Simulator which, to make people understand the problems related to the exploitation of the environment and the relationship between man and nature, completely overturns the perspective and puts us in the shoes of a bee. In this unprecedented situation there is not much space or possibility for long dialogues and explanations on the harmful effects of pollution or the lack of balance in the management of resources, but it is a perfect method to show up close the point of view of those who suffer more from the impact of these bad practices. There are also extensive scientific descriptions about bees and the characteristics of their life and activity in various conditions, but the game in question is a simulation that requires us above all to act.

This "animal" simulation essence does yes that environmental issues are not exposed in an explicit way, but remain clearly underlying the action of the game, which is otherwise very practical and requires us to carry out the typical activities of bees. However, from this particular perspective, it is possible to see with greater clarity the relationship between the human and animal world and the threats that the first can represent for the second, making it possible to understand the risks of an inorganic evolution with nature in a very more effective and direct than a documentary or educational software explicitly focused on climate change, considering also how bees play a fundamental role in the total balance of the Earth's ecosystem.

Civilization 6: Gathering Storm

With Gathering Storm, Civilization 6 requires us to take into account the balance between technological evolution and nature In this case we are not talking about a complete game, but a particularly appreciated expansion of a very famous series : with Civilization 6: Gathering Storm the famous strategy by Sid Meier has taken a more decisive step in the inclusion of environmental issues in a co ntext in which these actually take on a great sense. The series has always been based on land exploitation, but the balanced management of the environment has never been taken too much into consideration, given that the perspective was above all linked to the possibility of obtaining maximum gains from what the Earth simply had. to offer, focusing on the evolution of civilization rather than on growth in balance with the environment. Although some floods reminded us that global warming is harmful.

This concept, which undoubtedly introduces more complex simulation elements, is finally found in Gathering Storm, which for the first time introduces issues such as the need to prevent disasters through technological solutions, manage different climatic zones and also find eco-sustainable sources of energy, reducing the environmental impact and the possible risk of climate change. In Gathering Storm, the use of unsustainable energy has direct effects such as the increase in floods and storms, up to the rise in sea levels due to the melting of ice caused by global warming. Civilization 6 is a rare case where the context is perfect for introducing these themes, making them an integral part of the gameplay.


Endling puts us in the fur of the last fox and of his puppies, in certain of shelter in a devastated Earth Even though he has not yet come out, Endling has already made a name for himself for the subject dealt with and for the fascinating style that permeates it. It is a sort of third-person action adventure in which we play a fox struggling with a planet now completely devastated by pollution and the presence of man who has exploited all resources at the expense of nature. It is, in a certain way, a more extreme version of Shelter, set up in such a way as to convey a concept beyond the pure survival of the animal. It has no explicit narrative elements, staging the story from the point of view of the fox, but the "expressionist" representation of the settings and the challenges we face speak quite clearly of the conflictual relationship between man and nature, taken to the extreme consequences .

In this sense it is a dystopia, although not too far from reality. The fox protagonist has to face several challenges in devastated environments, beyond the point of no return posed by pollution and global warming, trying to save her cubs and take them to a safe place. They are the last beings of their own species and the mission thus takes on an epic and dramatic character, with extinction as a constant threat. In addition to being a game in all respects, Endling also aims to represent a sort of "tool for raising awareness", according to the intentions of the developer Javier Ramello, which can address both a young audience more focused on video games and users. wider, presenting itself as an experience with a strong emotional impact.

The challenge of environmentalism in video games

Perfect Dark has barely been seen, but it is already defined as a "sci-fi eco "in which the relationship between technological evolution and nature is put in the foreground The inclusion of these themes in video games represents a real challenge, because they are elements quite distant from the characteristics that are exploited to excite the players. It is difficult, for such profound arguments, to compete with the adrenaline rush of being the protagonists of fireworks and pyrotechnic fights, but the question can be addressed in different ways, as we have seen above. Not only that, references to environmental issues can be inserted in a more disguised way, or act as an engine for action as excellent arguments for carrying out epic actions: the setting of Cyberpunk 2077, for example, is enough by itself to demonstrate the risks of one. unscrupulous exploitation of the environment, while the defense of this is, after all, the underlying argument of the great adventure of Final Fantasy 7, for example.

Similarly, the next Perfect Dark also seems to introduce themes interesting with its "eco sci-fi" setting, as defined by The Initiative, perhaps addressing them in a rather unprecedented way.

Final Fantasy 7 even leads us to interpret eco-terrorists, dramatically interpreting the environmental issue There are therefore various solutions that can be adopted to convey messages on the threat posed by climate change and in favor of eco-sustainable development in video games, in line with the wide expressive possibilities of this medium. There remains an underlying paradox, on which there will still be a lot of work to be done, namely the fact that the hardware itself we play on derives from production processes that involve a large environmental impact, in addition to that generated by the energy consumption required to be able to use them. It is yet another type of challenge to be faced in the immediate future, but on which video games can act in some way, if only by raising awareness of these issues.

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