If you thought the climate catastrophe was a new thing for video games, keep in mind that Wind Waker is starting due to the great tide, isn't it?
In Fate of the World 2011, which used real scientific research to build its story, the actors lead the international organization responsible for managing social, technology and environmental policies.
Last year's Beyond Blue brought players deep under water in the name of nature conservation.
Video games have been dealing with the end of things for decades. From the bombed-out nuclear wasteland of Washington, DC in Fallout 3 to the flooded hyrule of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, popular games have explored the concept of the apocalypse with both silly humor and seriousness, often revealing unpleasant truths. So it may come as no surprise that video game developers are taking steps as the overly real climate crisis continues to rupture – even if the ongoing public health disaster known as COVID-19 overshadows systematization in public perception How rising sea levels or other ecological disasters could overwhelm us in the coming years.
While many of these climate change-focused games focus on portraying the dire future that experts predict if we refuse to radically change our behavior patterns, others are somewhat more traditional in their approach. And some notable game makers like Firaxis Games (Civilization) and 11-Bit Studios (This War of Mine) are inspired by climate change to create ridiculous dilemmas that force players to make radical decisions in the face of overwhelming opportunities. In other words, if these apocalypse studios don't make life as entertaining as it sounds, they can at least make it interesting.
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The picturesque surroundings of Civ6 were facing some difficulties.
A game that can do both
To be fair, climate researchers have understood for years that video games have a unique ability to communicate the stakes and severity of this global crisis to a mass audience. Historically, many of these games fit the strategy genre well, and developers have tried different approaches to attract players. For example, the commercial game Fate of the World often overwhelms new players with the weight of its interlocking systems: do a few. If you make bad decisions early, you'll quickly head towards a bad end. All you can do is apply the knowledge you have gained to future playthroughs. On the other hand, educational tariffs such as the Beyond Blue underwater exploration simulation tend to be more accessible. By focusing on the specific effects of climate change – in this case, the destruction of Earth's oceans – the game can communicate the cost of a warming climate to a wider audience.
While these so-called "global warming games" can change minds as an established sub-genre of the outdated label "Serious Games", they cannot penetrate the psyche of everyday gamers in the same way as their ultra-gamers. successful commercial brothers like Minecraft. For many, that is not their goal. However, a game like Civilization 6 can do both. When developer Firaxis Games announced that the Gathering Storm DLC would add climate and disaster mechanics for its latest entry in the classic strategy franchise, fans reacted with great enthusiasm.
According to Ed Beach, the game's main designer, the team believed that these environmental features would help further refine Civ 6's core philosophy, which he calls "card games." Unlike previous Civilization games, if you want to build powerful settlements, a player has to invest resources in exploiting the terrain around a potential city, such as building a waterwheel next to a river or digging a mine under a mountain. According to Beach, it was an obvious way of improvement for them to have this river or mountain erupt with magma every now and then.
"Climate change was a natural extension of this idea, especially since our game runs until 2050," says Beach. "The next 30 years are pretty critical for our planet, where we may see such dramatic changes in our planet's landscape."
In the early to mid-game of a Civ 6 game, conspicuous disasters like storms and floods are controlled by the same systems as their more common examples like famines and droughts. They are all set to randomly rolling dice in the background, although players have the ability to adjust their frequency and severity. It's not all doom and gloom – like their real counterparts, these setbacks can bring unexpected benefits, e.g. B. Fertilize your soil for improved food production. However, once you enter the last third of the game – the so-called "modern era" and later – your country's industrial production can begin to affect atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, and this can have a significant impact on both the overall climate and the related disasters .
According to Beach, Civilization 6 was inspired by a very peculiar source of its climate systems – the first game in the series, Civilization from 1991. Compared to the far-reaching complexity of its sequels, Civ 1's global warming system is fairly simple: once the player in the industrial age or later starting with the production of factories and the like, his card will slowly gain pollution. (As with the Civ 6 disasters, certain catastrophic events cause massive amounts of it, such as the meltdown of a nuclear power plant.) If pollution is not removed quickly enough, the map changes slowly and the coasts become swamps and once upon a time . fertile plains turn into dry deserts. Later games in the series would slightly refine these systems, but with Gathering Storm, Beach and the team wanted to come up with new ideas that aim to reward players who took proactive measures rather than punishing those who didn't.
While Beach says that the main goal of this new climate system was to add interesting wrinkles to the existing Civ formula, he notes the franchise's legacy as an educational tool, although his young players don't exactly consider it an "edutainment". For Beach, climate change is becoming a key moment in human history, whether we admit it or not – just like the invention of the wheel or the scourge of black death – and that's exactly what a civilization game is about.
"The (Civ) sandbox lacked a comprehensive account of how the environment has pushed back to check human progress and how humanity has affected the planet," he says. "Gathering Storm has added these new elements to the mix: tools to experience environmental change on a global scale. If players can see how humanity can shape the planet, this only increases the game's ability to learn and educate, and hopefully this is a win for everyone. " ""
Although careless gaming can cause rising water levels to destroy these nations, Gathering Storm offers players many tools to deal with increased carbon levels. Some of these technologies are specific to the game's "future era" and are entirely speculative in nature, including floating cities and carbon recovery (i.e., evacuating CO2 from the atmosphere like a giant vacuum cleaner). As Beach says, the team wanted to incorporate these yet-to-be-invented techniques to highlight the fact that the apocalyptic future predicted by the worst climate projections isn't necessarily set in stone – we have the power to change them if we choose. "Technologies like this – things that our contemporary scientists hope to unlock – give players the opportunity to put the world on a positive path, even if they have had a significant impact on climate change before," he says. "They were the last part of our effort to ensure that players always had the tools to respond positively to environmental changes when they tended to."