There are certain similarities between the kind of models used to simulate climate change (or any complex system) and games. Both are rule-driven simulations. Alternate reality game-maker and futurist Jane McGonigal argues that games can therefore help us to understand and negotiate the complexities around us in a way that is not possible for other media. In addition games only work if we act. As we analyze games we need to think about the kind of things they allow us to do, encourage us to do, make us do. We need to understand how the graphics, sound design, and narrative elements combine to create a stage for us to perform on – and how that performance creates meaning.
Video games from AAA games to indy games are engaging with environmental issues in a variety of ways. The games and one VR piece below (as well as the game you have played with your group) show some of the range of approaches. There are a couple of games to PLAY. (Trigger warning one of them is the game Plague.inc read their statement about covid-19 if you feel nervous about playing.) There are a couple of linked READINGS. Also please VISIT the web-pages documenting the 2007 alternate reality game World Without Oil. Finally there is a 16 minute video of a VR experience to WATCH. As usual it is up to you to manage your time. You may want to spend more time with some things than others, but at least skim through everything.
- Think about these questions.
- In what ways is it the same/different from mass media games?
- Are games a good way to make social commentary? Why?
- What do games do that is different in terms of providing social commentary?
- Are games a good way to communicate a complex system like oil production and its social effects?
- Quite a dense text, you can put questions you have about it into your reading reactions blog.
LOOK AT documentation of World Without Oil by Eklund, McGonigal et al. 2007
- WATCH the 7 min video
- BROWSE the archive
- READ the FAQ, see sidebar links on about page
- TAKE the Tour, I advise you to use the blog index page to read chronologically
- Is it still possible to play? How? Do you want to?
PLAY Plague Inc. – statement about covid-19
- “We specifically designed the game to be realistic and informative, while not sensationalising serious real-world issues. This has been recognised by the CDC and other leading medical organisations around the world.”
- Could a simulation game help people understand our present situation – the spread of covid-19? This game DOES NOT model the current crisis.
- Download and play the mobile game Plague Inc. It shows how very hard it is for a plague to kill everyone.
Finally WATCH Osmose by Char Davies and relax!
- Note this was made in 1995 with revolutionary technology.
- It returns us to a sense of being embedded in and part of nature, rather than fearful of microbes.
- OPTIONAL READ Char Davies and Osmose by Karl O’Donoghue