Exploring and Building an Ecosystem Through a Video Game

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 1:16 PM



Video games nowadays are all the rage, from PC, to console, even one’s mobile phone. It’s also something that uses electricity from our fragile non-digital ecosystem. We can only do what we can do to help the environment, that is on a micro scale. Most of us probably can’t affect the macro scale of things or even comprehend the massive balance that must be held on earth and how one can move the needle towards effecting change in the environment in a positive way.


Image credit: Strange Loop Games
The folks at Strange Loop Games have made an interesting game that is currently in early alpha, it’s called Eco. Here’s a little about the game as quoted from their marketing site:

Eco is an online game where players must collaborate to build a civilization in a world where everything they do affects the environment. All resources come from a simulated ecosystem, with thousands of plants and animals simulating 24/7.

In short, they have built a game with it’s own ecosystem and what one does matter. If you cut too many trees from one area, that area starts to die. If you do too much of one thing, it negatively affects the environment. Players can set up laws on their respective servers to limit the chopping of trees per day. That’s just one example, it applies to almost every resource on the digital planet.
They explain this law system best:

In Eco success depends entirely on your ability to function within a simulated ecosystem, but the workings of that ecosystem are not obvious presented facts (there is no ‘ecosystem health bar’), and players must figure it out for themselves using the tools of investigation the game provides. Statistical investigation is a weapon you wield in Eco, and the resulting knowledge is valuable, because you need it to make decisions.

It’s up to the players to make decisions about the environment and how they treat things, akin to what we have to do with our real planet. Everything is player run and up to them on how to carry out the world. Just like ours.


Image credit: Strange Loop Games
It’s an interesting idea into how to present the eco problem in a different light. It’s a creative and interactive way to get the word out about how to save and how to work within an environment with others. The game has been backed by the Department of Education and the “Climate Challenge Award” by Games for Change. Reason being, it’s slated at kids in a classroom environment to experience what it’s like on a macro and micro level to change and ecosystem within a safer environment.

Here's the trailer and you can learn more about the game and their mission to spread the knowledge of an ecosystem here. It takes a delicate balance and a lot of time and energy to affect change in our environment and they are trying to help with teaching others.


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