“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance”. Aristotle’s definition of art’s primary purpose can definitely be applied to these video games that focus on the environment. As environmental crises and fears mount daily, the UN Environment Programme have challenged gaming companies to incorporate environmental narratives into their games with the Playing for the Planet Alliance initiative to teach the rising generation how beautiful, important, and necessary helping the planet is. Unfortunately, sometimes educational games can fall into a trap of being more informative than fun. With these games, that’s not a problem. Without further ado, here’s my top six favorite eco-friendly games that celebrate our Earth.
This game is only last on the list because it isn’t out yet (set to come out in 2021), but I thought it deserved a spotlight as it is all about saving the last living fox and her cubs, and I love foxes. An endling, according to dictionary.com, is “the last survivor of its species or subspecies and whose death consequently means the extinction of that species”. Players play this 3D side scrolling adventure through the eyes of the last mother fox who needs to feed, protect, and guide her three cubs towards a safe place.
This experience will give players perspective on how destructive humans can be from pollution to drying up natural resources. As we celebrate Earth Day, it becomes increasingly more important for us to realize the damage that we as humans do to our world. Endling aims to provide both an empathetic experience for Earth’s wildlife as well as perspective towards the real-world problems we are causing the Earth. Endling will be available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Before talking about the game, there’s lots you can do to save the bees. Bees are essential to our world, and unfortunately, they are dying. According to GreenPeace.org, bees are the producers of 90% of the world’s nutrition. When it comes to United States farms that require bee pollination, “the number of bee colonies per hectare has declined by 90 percent since 1962”.
With all of that being said, Bee Simulator is more of a silly take on what the world is like through a bee’s eyes. Buzz around Central Park to collect pollen and be a part of the hive. Bee Simulator includes Player-vs-Player battles, split-screen co-op, and three game modes of multiplayer. Do your part to save the bees and then be a bee yourself in Bee Simulator! Bee Simulator is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac.
Eco’s premise is to create a civilization capable of stopping a meteor that will destroy the world without destroying the world yourself first. Sort of like Minecraft, players get resources from the world around them, but in Eco, they must be cautious not to disrupt the flow of the ecosystem by chopping too many trees in one area down or damming up a river for personal energy use. Both an educational game and an entertaining survival game, Eco has received incredible reviews, and it is still only in early access (meaning the full game isn’t out yet). Play with your friends and create your community while respecting the balance of the ecosystem. Eco is available on PC and Mac.
This one has been on my watchlist for a while, and this year might be the perfect year to pick it up. From developers dedicated to help planet Earth by planting one tree for one download of their game (they hit 500,000 trees in February!), Alba not only centers its story on the environment, but also does its part in real life to protect the Earth that we all love. You play as Alba, a bright young girl determined to clean up her island, help her community, and enjoy nature. It is very relaxing, incredibly engaging, and holds an endearing message about preserving the wonderful nature of nature. Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac.
I couldn’t decide over putting Abzu or Beyond Blue on this list as they are both pretty similar, but different in their own ways, so you get a two-for-one deal. First, they are similar because in both, you play as deep-sea diver exploring the breath-taking watery world that makes up 70% of Earth. Abzu is special to me because of its whimsically mystic soundtrack and bright art design. The underwater world feels overflowing with life as the main objective of the game is to explore and get lost in the deep blue.
Beyond Blue is unique because they teamed up with BBC Studios (the makers behind the famous Blue Planet and Planet Earth documentaries) and OceanX Media in order to really capture the true essence of Earth’s aquatic life. Beyond Blue is more realistic and educational and Abzu is more dramatic and awe-inspiring, both serving as two pieces to a perfect puzzle for gamers looking for a relaxing dive into the big, wet blue. Abzu and Beyond Blue are available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac.
I vividly remember the feeling of floating and fluttering on the wind for the first time when playing Flower when I was 12 (I'm now 24). This is the type of game that sticks with you forever, and in twelve years, you wish you could have your memory wiped to experience it for the first time again. Flower is a beautifully simple game where you play as a flower petal on a journey to re-beautify a colorless landscape. With the help of a delightful musical accompaniment, Flower presents players with an open field without a time limit or high score; just flower petals, grass, rocks, and wind. Through a narrative centered specifically on the destruction and beauty of nature, there might not exist a better game to celebrate Earth Day than Flower. Flower is available on PlayStation and PC.
Earth Day is a day specific for each of us to consider what we have done and what we are planning to do in order to keep our blue and green marble floating in space beautiful, habitable, and enjoyable for all its inhabitants. Video games, like powerful documentaries or books, have the power to change our perspectives and make lasting change. Let's make plans this Earth Day to make sure the future is as green (or greener) than the year before.