Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

Where pol­lu­tion and waste are the vil­lains.

GO­ING green is a prac­tice that has evolved from hip­pies and eco- ac­tivists into a main­stream move­ment, with slow food, or­ganic gar­den­ing and re­cy­cling now com­mon­place for many of us in the West.

We re­cy­cle, choose al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources, avoid chem­i­cals and re­duce waste, and now the green ethos has hit the video game in­dus­try too.

The usual video game trope of sav­ing the world may be chang­ing from fo­cus­ing on a sub- hu­man vil­lain to turn­ing the lens back on our­selves, our pol­lut­ing cities and waste­ful ways. Our world has changed.

The ris­ing sea level has harmed the coastal cities and cli­mate change has made large stretches of land in­hos­pitable.

No, it’s not the evening news – that’s the de­scrip­tion of a new eco- themed, strat­e­gy­based video game called Anno 2070 ( Ubisoft, Novem­ber 2011).

In it you face the cur­rent world chal­lenges to pos­i­tively shape the world of to­mor­row. By choos­ing ei­ther an in­dus­trial and ef­fi­cient course by join­ing the Ty­coons or a more sus­tain­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally- friendly di­rec­tion by sid­ing with the Ecos, the con­tin­u­a­tion of the planet and the sur­vival of hu­man civil­i­sa­tion de­pend on how you play the game.

Build­ing your so­ci­ety of the fu­ture, you can colonise is­lands and cre­ate sprawl­ing megac­i­ties with mul­ti­tudes of build­ings, ve­hi­cles and re­sources to man­age.

You must en­gi­neer new pro­duc­tion chains such as ro­bot fac­to­ries, oil re­finer­ies and di­a­mond mines and trade with a va­ri­ety of goods and com­modi­ties.

Yes, it’s only a video game but en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists are en­thu­si­as­tic for this game, as it gives a glimpse into our Earth’s pos­si­ble fu­ture if the life­style we cur­rently lead con­tin­ues.

How­ever, it doesn’t just give one a pre­dic­tion of the fu­ture; it ac­tively al­lows the player to cre­atively solve the en­vi­ron­men­tal cri­sis, if this can be done, and find ways for mod­ern hu­man so­ci­ety to still flour­ish in a not- so- per­fect en­vi­ron­ment.

Even though it is a hy­po­thet­i­cal sit­u­a­tion, it could in­flu­ence peo­ple to live more sus­tain­ably in their own time and place as well as in the game. Your de­ci­sions change the face of the world.

Eco­log­i­cal tech­nol­ogy or the in­dus­trial stan­dard?

Sus­tain­abil­ity or mass con­sump­tion?

Deal with to­day’s global chal­lenges and cre­ate the fu­ture.

So, play­ing a video game is not re­ally deal­ing with to­day’s global chal­lenges nor cre­at­ing the fu­ture, but it’s a darn sight more help­ful than an­other mil­i­tary- sim­u­la­tion or gang- war­fare ti­tle.

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