Playing Nature

How do today's video games connect with our current ecological crises?

Playing nature : ecology in video games, Electronic mediations, 58

Chang, Alenda Y. Minnesota, 2019
294p gameography index, 9781517906313 $108.00, 9781517906320 $27.00, 9781452962269

Playing nature : ecology in video games, Electronic mediations, 58 book cover

When it comes to video games, most people think of the first person “shooter” games that proliferate in the marketplace. But there are other, more thoughtful games—games that create an Edenic space for gamers and can be seen as working models for design systems to save Earth’s ecosystem. In this superbly researched and detailed book, Chang (film and media studies, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara) examines hundreds of video games. Among them, she finds herself drawn to The Endless Forest (2006), Farm Craft 2: Global Vegetable Crisis (2011), FarmVille 2: Tropic Escape (2016), Branch Out: Unlock the Outdoors (2017), and No Man’s Sky (2016), which all posit the existence of alternative worlds that may serve as potential blueprints for ecological activity in the current era. Even Henry David Thoreau’s Walden has been rendered as a video game (Walden, the Game). Chang is thoroughly versed in the field, and the detailed notes demonstrate her complete mastery of the subject. 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.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.
Reviewer: G. A. Foster, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Subject: Humanities – Communication
Choice Issue: Sep 2020