On the heels of Earth Day, Strange Loop Games Founder and Director John Krajewski posted a Kickstarter update on his Eco campaign. In it, Krajewski shares his hope that video games can play a role in saving the environment. Specifically, he’s hoping the interactive and experimental aspects of Eco will convince people of the severity of climate change.

“The US government is chiefed by a leader who purports that climate change is a Chinese hoax. The EPA is under threat of being massively defunded. Whatever modest gains were made in previous years are being rapidly rolled back. Worst of all, this is all occurring with indisputable evidence of the causes, dangers, and solutions to climate change readily available,” Krajewski wrote.

Strange Loop Games raised $202,760 on Kickstarter in 2015 to develop their global survival game, Eco. The project also received a grant from the US Department of Education. In Eco, players take control of a persistent voxel based world. Rather than the usual ‘every man for himself’ approach to survival, players must collaborate with each other. Their goal is to build a functional civilization within a fully simulated ecosystem. Every action taken by the players has the potential to affect the thousands of simulated plants and animals who occupy the game world.

First-Hand Environmental Experience

Players are able to track ecosystem data and use it to analyze what’s happening within their world. The data would provide evidence for them to decide on enforceable laws for the player-run government. It’s this ability to see the effects of their actions firsthand that Krajewski hopes will bring more people around on the impact humans have on the real environment.

“There’s a power to what you experience personally above what people tell you; you value the conclusions you come to on your own infinitely greater than those which are foisted upon you.”

Rather than take a preachy approach towards the importance of preserving the ecosystem, the game actually rewards the opposite. At least in the short term. At first players can amass huge resource gains with which to build their civilization. Their primary goal is to build and immediately harvesting loads of resources is the quickest means towards achieving it. It’s only later as the finite supply of resources they’ve come to rely on start to run out that players find an incentive to attempt a different approach.

“By positioning environmentalism in this role, not as goal but as consequence, you allow the player to arrive to it as their own conclusion, through the logical extension of their own behaviors, which is far more powerful than beating them over the head with it,” Krajewski explained.

Eco Alpha build 5.5 is available now for $40 through Strange Loop’s website.

Joanna Mueller
Joanna Mueller is a lifelong gamer who used to insist on having the Super Mario Bros manual read to her as a bedtime story. Now she's reading Minecraft books to her own kiddo while finally making use of her degree to write about games.
Joanna Mueller

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