There’s no denying that post-apocalyptic games are popular. There’s been an absurd amount of zombie based games released recently. But if gamers want something new, and developers want to bring in some money, why not take on global warming?
From mass floods caused by melting ice caps and droughts caused by, well, melting ice caps, there aren’t many effective or fun games with a global warming theme, or even as a basic plot. With scientists claiming it’s true, politicians claiming it’s false, and the everyday man wondering who to believe, the real world issues of today provides some great material to work with in making a global warming based post-apocalyptic game.
The few climate change games that do exist are usually targeted towards kids or have overbearing messages that become propaganda and no longer art. Most don’t make a much of an impression on gamers at all.
One game that got noticed was the strategy game Fate of the World, the second environmental game by Red Redemption in 2011. The player ruled the world while trying to balance factors like over population, global warming, and other challenges in the turn based strategy game. Fate of the World received mixed reviews from critics because of the mechanics and gameplay. While it was very difficult to make citizens happy while balancing other issues in the world, not to mention that all news came from CNN, it was accurate. The portrayal of saving the world from anything, really, has been shown as a fairly easy task in games. Just swing some swords around and the world is saved. With Fate of the World, it took planning ahead and thinking about the outcome of the moves to keep the world intact.
What many people didn’t like about Fate of the World was that the extreme difficulty and the language used. There was a lot of vocabulary that they didn’t understand, and in turn, felt the game was propaganda. With Earth Primer, the language wasn’t too difficult, and was provided in a text book fashion.
This year, Chaim Gingold, who worked on Spore, released Earth Primer. The game allows the user to learn about climate change through playing a god. It’s essentially a textbook and a sandbox game put together. The player has the ability to play god by changing everything on their little block of land. They can adjust the temperature, build or remove mountains, and use wind to change the way sand dunes look. It got a fair amount of praise as an educational game on geology, but not everyone picked up on the climate change tones.
Unfortunately, a lot of these games come off as targeted towards kids. Now, teaching kids about what’s going on in the world is great, and helping them to develop the skills to critically think and solve these problems is good, but they aren’t as fun to play or don’t reach a larger audience.
Zig Zag Zoom has released two games in regards to environmental change. Towering Oceans is a game with cute animations. The story is the sea levels have washed away your beloved and you have to build a tower on a boat to go save them. Your boat runs on sustainable energy and recycled materials. Their other game, Tree Story, requires players to plant virtual trees and take care of them. Once the tree has matured, a real live tree will be planted.
The problem is that some people find simulator games too slow for their tastes or boring. Sure, a sim would prove to be the easiest way to make such a game, but taking the easy way out isn’t the point of making games.
If there was an action packed climate change game, maybe even a first person shooter, throw in some adventure into the wastelands of what was once a big city like New York or Moscow, then maybe it would draw some attention. Not only that, but it would bring in some diversity to these games.