Green Games

Each of the following games offers some engagement with environmental practice or activism.  Some of them, like Greenpeace’s Whale Flip, are straightforward children’s games with clear objectives.  Others, like the search engines Ecosia, are not “games” at all, but nevertheless share some features with game play.  Still others, like “World of Greencraft” and the “Something Awful” spoofs, don’t even exist, while others, like Jane McGonigal’s “World without Oil,” offer a sophisticated and intricate gaming experience about resource management in the age of the Anthropocene.  In spite of their differences, and perhaps because of them, they collectively manage to raise several questions about strategies for environmental practice:  How effective are these games?  How fun are they?  What do they do well?  What could they do better?  Would you play any of them if they had no connection to environmentalism?  Do they contribute positively to the “bottom line” of your vision of a successful and productive model of conservation/activism/practice?

Feel free to explore each of the games below and share some of your thoughts, especially about the game’s efficacy within the context of environmentalism and how you felt while playing them. I’m especially curious about your impressions of the Greenpeace games (Whale Flip, Mr. Splashypants) and the concept video for “World of Greencraft.”  Complete sentences, brief impressions, comments, keywords, and associations are all welcome.


We recently checked out “The Art of Video Games,” on tour from the Smithsonian.  It was a blast!  Not only did we get to play old arcade favorites and wax nostalgic about the home entertainment systems of our bygone youths (hello, ColecoVision!), we also got to see some games that departed familiar gaming conventions (i.e., the first-person shooter, the quest-oriented adventure, the OCD creature that needs to consume (or touch) everything in its path).  I enjoyed the whole exhibit, but I particularly enjoyed playing ThatGameCompany’s Flower for PS3.  There’s no object to the game, really.  You “play” the wind and as the wind you blow through different environments, picking up flower petals along the way.  It’s a gorgeous game.  You get to be the wind.  You get to participate in an (albeit simulated) eco-system.  You get to move your whole body, not just your wrists and fingers.  I enjoyed how I felt when I played it: I could lean into it, bend away from it, glide and drift with it.  I didn’t feel anxious or tense (the way I can sometimes feel in games in which I am chased) when I played it.  Instead, I felt relaxed and a little dizzy, like I’d been flying.

Original Playstation

An oldie but a goodie. I don’t have an issue with the outdoor swingset as a playstation.  It makes for a good pun.  But it also perpetuates this idea that nature and technology are mutually exclusive domains when they are not.

World Without Oil

Jane McGonigal


Jane McGonigal

Help Mr. Splashypants

Kid’s game (Greenpeace)

ArboPals / Arboria


Unreality/Something Awful Green Game Spoofs

World of Greencraft