Ecology in Video Games
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
320 pages, 140.00 x 216.00 x 38.00 mm, 34 b&w illustrations
- ISBN: 9781517906320
- Published: December 2019
A potent new book examines the overlap between our ecological crisis and video games
Video games may be fun and immersive diversions from daily life, but can they go beyond the realm of entertainment to do something serious—like help us save the planet? As one of the signature issues of the twenty-first century, ecological deterioration is seemingly everywhere, but it is rarely considered via the realm of interactive digital play. In Playing Nature, Alenda Y. Chang offers groundbreaking methods for exploring this vital overlap.
Arguing that games need to be understood as part of a cultural response to the growing ecological crisis, Playing Nature seeds conversations around key environmental science concepts and terms. Chang suggests several ways to rethink existing game taxonomies and theories of agency while revealing surprising fundamental similarities between game play and scientific work.
Gracefully reconciling new media theory with environmental criticism, Playing Nature examines an exciting range of games and related art forms, including historical and contemporary analog and digital games, alternate- and augmented-reality games, museum exhibitions, film, and science fiction. Chang puts her surprising ideas into conversation with leading media studies and environmental humanities scholars like Alexander Galloway, Donna Haraway, and Ursula Heise, ultimately exploring manifold ecological futures—not all of them dystopian.
"Alenda Y. Chang’s gorgeously penned Playing Nature charts an ecocritical approach to video games and design thinking, exploring much more than simply how the ecological has been imaged in games. Essential for designers, players, and critics, Playing Nature eloquently unveils the stakes of ecologically informed agency within video game worlds to reshape thought about both games themselves and the natural systems in which we are all enmeshed."—Soraya Murray, author of On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space
"Playing Nature is an ambitious project that makes a compelling case for ecocritical game studies. The book reverberates far beyond its main subject, speaking to the environmental humanities, comparative media studies, and the biophysical sciences. Alenda Y. Chang shows how a wide range of analog and digital games immerse players in ecological knowledge while also integrating gaming with other contemporary cultural forms, from speculative novels and documentary films to scientific experiments."—Allison Carruth, UCLA
"Scholarly yet accessible, imaginative yet stuffed with ideas from across the humanities and the sciences, Playing Nature is a fascinating analysis of the transformative potential of gaming, showing how the medium could be used to address serious issues around climate change and environmental justice."—Foreword Reviews
"But by daring to ask how video games might make the world lively and sound, Chang sparks a necessary conversation."—Science Magazine
"Providing a deep understanding of what the games set out to do, this book reveals that these projects may well point the way to the future."—CHOICE
"It is a timely and ground-breaking work that firmly places video games well within the scope of environmental studies."—ISLE
"A useful analysis for non-nature video games."—Gamers With Glasses