Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Playing Nature

Ecology in Video Games

2019
Author:

Alenda Y. Chang

Playing Nature

A potent new book examines the overlap between our ecological crisis and video games

Arguing that video 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. Alenda Y. Chang suggests several ways to rethink existing game taxonomies and theories of agency while revealing surprising fundamental similarities between game play and scientific work.

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.

Playing Nature

Alenda Y. Chang is assistant professor of film and media studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is cofounder of Wireframe, a digital media studio fostering creative pedagogy, research, and design aligned with issues of social and environmental justice.

Playing Nature

Contents

Introduction: Edge Effects

1. Mesocosm

2. Scale

3. Nonhuman

4. Entropy

5. Collapse

Acknowledgments

Notes

Gameography

Index