Games that are fun, look good – and also deal with important topics? There is! We have tested eight computer games for you, which are not limited to bringing as many enemies as possible underground just like in the games you can find at game downloads.
Most computer games want one thing above all: really good entertainment. The fact that this often succeeds is shown by the unbroken popularity of games, with which the computer games industry turns over billions every year. Most games deliberately have little to do with reality and almost never deal with social issues.
So-called serious games, on the other hand – i.e. computer games in which a learning effect is supposed to occur while gaming – can often do one thing above all: go wrong. Because good intentions are not equally well done. With the embarrassing “Aufbruch Bayern” (allegedly developed for 100,000 euros from tax revenues), the Bavarian State Chancellery had to experience this first-hand.
Sometimes good meant wanted but well done! We have researched and tested digital games on environmental and climate topics for you, which not only address important problems – but are also fun and look good at the same time.
Trouble in Paradise: Botanicula
Botanicula is certainly the cutest game on this list. But the optics are deceptive! Because although everything seems to be in perfect order in the cute paradise of a treetop, a dark creature has nested there, which ensures that the leaves and in the end the whole tree dies.
Five disparate friends – a stick, a mushroom, a seed, a kind of pumpkin fruit, and a winged insect – set out to save their tree. In the classic point-and-click game, you have to solve many puzzles and escape a lot of enemies – not only the evil that has taken up residence in the tree, but also large insects and predators.
Botanicula comes from the development studio Amanita Design, which has already presented other fantastic point-and-clicks. Botanicula tightens the screw again: On the treetop, the game’s only setting, there is an entire ecosystem full of strange creatures that are sometimes helpful (and sometimes not). Just observing their interaction is a great attraction to the game.
Ultimately, it’s about rebalancing this ecosystem. It doesn’t hurt that this happens with the help of tricky puzzles in a magical world.
Saving the World Quickly: Earth Games
Earth Games is an association of students, game designers, and climate experts who work together to produce entertaining, science-based games on environmental topics. These are mainly mobile games, sometimes based on well-known gaming mechanisms.
Life of Pika, for example, is a vertical scroller in which you have to support a cute pipe hare on its journey north away from its warming habitat.
Climate Quest, on the other hand, is a short tactical game in the style of the Civilization series, in which the aim is to place scientists where they are needed.
ACaribou’s Tale is based on the gameplay of the arcade classic Breakout. The goal: to feed a family of caribou, which becomes heavier the warmer the climate gets, the heavier.
The studio has developed a total of 10 games so far, all of which are available free of charge for iOS and Android, entertaining and designed with love.
Art Disguised as Games: Causa Creations
Cause Creations consists of the two artists, activists, and game designers Tilmann Hars and Georg Hobmeier, who produce so-called social awareness games in alternating collaborations. The topics covered by the games range from looted art to the life of a street shoe vendor in Dar es Salaam to the anti-war shooter.
The games TheResource ParadoxandBurn The Boards, on the other hand, deal with environmental issues. The Recource Paradox is a game about land grabbing by oil companies in rural India. The classic strategy game is about building and managing a village as air pollution gets worse and the soil becomes scarcer.
At the same time, the oil company is to be prevented from continuing its activities. This succeeds in the later course of the game either with the help of armed guerrilla troops or by lawyers, depending on the game’s development.
Burn The Boards, on the other hand, is a mobile puzzle game in which you, as a worker in an electronics recycling company, have to disassemble chipsets in as few moves as possible for a pittance. Each move poisons the character a little more, for the pittance also food, work materials, and visits to the doctor must be financed. Burn The Boards has become an entertaining and challenging puzzle game – which at the same time comes up with a bitter punchline.
Cat snail on a long journey: Rain World
A small cat snail has lost its family in a flood – and must now sneak through a post-apocalyptic landscape full of predators and industrial waste to find its relatives. Torrential rains and a constant lack of food drain the nerves of both the protagonist and the player.
Rain World is an atmospheric 2D platformer by the indie studio Videocult, in which the environmental theme is subtly incorporated. The industrial ruins, and the constant rainfall: are all the consequences of an environmental catastrophe that constantly threatens the brave cat snail. The real star of Rain World is therefore also the poetic and destroyed world that the game is about.
Walle, Wasser walle: Hydrophobia
Hydrophobiaprovides the theoretical foundation for the game. We are in the middle of the 21st century: While an elite is enjoying themselves on the city airship “Queen of the World”, the rest of the people live in constant scarcity due to overpopulation.
One day, a terrorist group called Malthusians – named after the British economist Thomas Malthus – attacks the airship. The goal: is to kill a large part of humanity in order to ensure a better life for the survivors. The reluctant heroine Kate, who discovers that she can control water, tries to prevent this.
In fact, Thomas Malthus warned in 1798 of the so-called “Malthusian catastrophe”, the point at which the entire population of the earth could no longer be supplied with food – impoverishment was the result. As a religious person, he rejected abortion and contraception but relied on education and self-regulation of nature. In Hydrophobia, this Malthusian catastrophe has occurred.
Hydrophobia was released back in 2010, but the developers of Dark Energy Digital have built something into the game that can still be seen today: the specially developed HydroEngine, which ensures a realistic look and behavior of the water. The attractive graphics and carefully crafted story of the game world still make Hydrophobia an unusual and rewarding game with depth.