July 29, 2020

How Some of the Best Video Games Are Inspiring Clean, Green Living IRL

Paul Patterson

Often times video games are classified as being entirely bad for today’s youth. However, in a world that’s rapidly being affected by climate change, video games may offer a more engaging solution. In fact, some of the best video games of the last few years are inspiring the next generation to live cleaner, greener lives.

Two people playing a video game.

Video games play a valuable role in sustainability education for players of all ages. Not only do they demonstrate the consequences of taking our planet for granted, but these games also show players what they can do to help.

These are some of the most popular games that actively promote sustainable living!

The Best Video Games for Green Living

There’s no shortage of variety when it comes to video games. From convoluted puzzles to wilderness survival and from flight simulators to the digital board games, anyone can easily find a game to satisfy their needs.

One thing that each video game has in common, though, is the power to influence its audience. Games like Eco, The Sims 4, and Civilization VI are all games that use this influence to make the world a greener place.

Eco

Eco is a different kind of video game. Originally designed as an educational tool, it throws players into a world where their decisions can significantly impact the environment.

"[Other games] don't encourage the kind of ethical decision making that will be required of future pioneers. Perhaps ECO can offer a solution." — Jordan Shapiro, Forbes

In Eco, players find themselves immersed in a rich, living simulation where every action has consequences. Players must work together to build a strong, functional society without compromising the environment in the process.

When faced with the consequences of their actions, players will learn to think critically about ecological issues and find effective ways to solve them.

The Sims 4

The Sims 4 is the newest installment in a hugely popular series of life-simulation video games. It’s recent expansion Eco Lifestyle allows players to embrace the benefits of living sustainably.

Two Sims discussing sustainable living
Image courtesy of Electronic Arts

This expansion drops players into a world where their decisions matter. Clean energy, sustainable design, and home gardens are all strategies your Sim can employ to minimize their carbon footprint.

Sustainable fashion has even risen to prominence within your virtual neighborhood! Your Sim can easily buy — or produce— new clothes and home decor made from recycled materials.

The Sims 4 puts players in a realistic world where even the smallest of everyday actions — good or bad — can have a big impact on the world around them.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI

Gathering Storm is the second expansion to the turn-based strategy game Civilization VI — one of the best video games of the 2010s. This expansion makes energy a key resource and introduces players to the long-term effects of climate change.

As your civilization moves through history, it can steadily grow without having any major impact on the environment. Though, once you reach the Industrial Revolution, the need for electricity changes the in-game world forever.

Fossil fuels — like coal and oil — are the most readily available power sources. However, prolonged use of these fossil fuels will result in more frequent and intense natural disasters and entire cities being lost to the rising sea.

Although there’s no quick fix for these problems, a strategy of climate mitigation and adaptation offers a viable solution.

Turning to clean energy sources — like solar and wind power — reduce the rate at which temperatures rise. Meanwhile, climate resilience strategies — like flood barriers and dams — will protect your society from damage that’s already been done.

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm is by far one of the best video games to vividly illustrate the effects of a changing climate on both the planet and the people who live here.

The Best Video Games Making Sustainability Fun

Video games can send powerful messages to players. Fortunately, some of the best video games are sending positive messages that promote clean, green lifestyles.

Games like Eco, The Sims 4, and Civilization VI teach players that their actions have consequences. By making sustainability fun for players, these games show them how easy it really is to take care of the planet.

Have you played any of these games? Tell us about your favorite green video games in the comments!

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