Playing Nature: Ecological Crisis and Video Games
Screenshot computer game "Walden, a game"
Alenda Y. Chang in Conversation
Tue, November 02, 2021 7 pm – 8 pm CET, Talk
Language: English

Computer games can address ecological concerns. But is a game only ecological if it explicitly deals with environmental issues on the content level? Can the relationship to nature be thought of in a fundamentally different way in computer games? What can environmentally conscious game worlds look like? In short – what does ecological game design involve?

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Alenda Y. Chang is the author of »Playing Nature – Ecology in Video Games«, published in 2019. The book represents one of the key works in game studies when it comes to environmental issues and ecology. Using ecological concepts such as »Scale«, »Mesocosm«, »Nonhuman«, »Entropy«, and »Collapse«, Chang discusses opportunities and challenges that arise in and through  computer games in five chapters.

The following questions are up for discussion:

  • What questions arise when we adress ecology and games?
  • How can we define environmental games? What characteristics should they fulfill?
  • Can computer games foster empathy for non-human beings and the environment? What can we learn from or through games about cohabitation, respect, and interconnectedness?
  • What about the physical environmental impacts of computer games? How might sufficiency be imagined when talking about games?    
  • What about the physical environmental impact of computer games and how might sufficiency – the effort to use as little energy and material as possible – be thought of in the game context?

The conversation will be held in English.


Alenda Y. Chang, Author and Associate Professor of Film und Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, USA
Laura Schmidt, Curatorial Assistant of the Department Wissen – Collections, Archive & Research

Media and Environment

»Media and Environment« is an open access online journal from the University of California Press dedicated to transnational and interdisciplinary research in ecomedia.

Wireframe Studio

Wireframe Studio is a digital media studio that aims to support collaborative and innovative research and teaching in new media, with a focus on global human rights, social justice, and environmental concerns.


zkm_gameplay. the next level
The game platform at the ZKM. Discover the new area »level 5: Eco Games«!
The event via livestream
Organization / Institution
ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe