Greener Gaming


In an alternative approach to going green, there’s a computer game called Botanicula that is not only delightful to look at and listen to, but is also fun to play. It’s inspiring in a manner both quiet and thoughtful, very unusual for a video game.

There are countless educational games that have been created as instructional tools for specific environmental issues. A list of some of them here looks at everything from agricultural strategies in Scotland to playing the part of a wolf in Yellowstone Park. Many of them are very informative indeed. I learned, for example, that a beef cow consumes a football-field sized patch of grass every day, at least in northern Scotland.

Botanicula, created by Czech-based Amanita Design, can’t claim to be as educational in the factual sense of the word. What it does, however, is aim to inspire a sense of wonder and respect for life. The premise is simple: Five small creatures attempt to rescue their habitat – a magical tree – from invasive parasites.

Source: Amanita Design

Source: Amanita Design

The point-and-click game isn’t new by current standards – it first came out in early 2012. It’s gotten high praise from game review sites for design, sound, playability and inventiveness.

I liked that it had a variety of organic imagery like the puzzle image above, which has several critters that move about like microscopic life forms.

A 2009 study on gaming and behavior stated that “Although dozens of studies have documented a relationship between violent video games and aggressive behaviors, very little attention has been paid to potential effects of prosocial games.” and goes on to conclude that prosical games “in which game characters help and support each other in nonviolent ways” do seem to lead to more real world cooperation among players.

And at the root of it, a sense of wonder at life and a cooperative approach are perhaps just as likely to nudge a gamer towards a greener viewpoint as simple facts.

Source: Amanita Design

Source: Amanita Design

On a side note, the game is downloadable, which reduces waste. According to the infographic below, downloading all games rather than manufacturing hard copy versions would save 2.4 billion gallons (7.5 bn liters)  of crude oil.

Source: / Big Fish Games

Source: / Big Fish Games

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