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Strange Loop Games becomes founding Member of the Playing for the Planet Alliance

Dev Blog: Eco Peaks Newsletter
October 1, 2019
Eco aims to address climate change through the medium of video games

We were honored to announce at the United Nations Climate Summit this week that with Eco and our future titles, we’re joining forces with other game companies to be founding members of the ‘Playing for the Planet Alliance’.

With the ranks of Sony, Microsoft, Google, and several other game studios, we’re among good company in committing to the value of addressing climate changes, using the incredible power of the medium of video games to do so.

For us that means applying our flagship title Eco towards making an impact in how players think about climate change. Video games have a unique power in understanding concepts and bringing awareness, because unlike other mediums they are experienced interactively, meaning that the conclusions that one draws from them are their own, and through the construction of simulations that put players in challenges that mirror those of the real world, we allow them to experience the problem first-hand and design the solution, through collaboration with their fellow game citizens.

Games have the magic ability to take a problem that is so vast as climate change, and compress it in time and space to a size that can be contended with, where your direct actions make a visible difference.

In these high-stakes virtual worlds, the solution comes from you and the group or not at all. It builds a responsibility and agency in the player, embracing the sacrifices and advancements that are required to solve it.  The mental model that is built from this first-hand experience of solving climate change in a virtual world is then directly transferable to the real one, and players can take from their own experiences the scope of the problem, the challenges that must be faced, and most importantly, how to go about solving them.

Because Eco is an online game composed of many different people playing together, it drives home the fact that climate change is not just a scientific problem but a political one, and building the political will to solve it, even more so than the scientific understanding, is the primary challenge we face today. We have translated that problem into one of the central challenges of Eco: players must create a government encompassing the viewpoints of many other players, finding common ground among different biases and beliefs, creating regulations and electing leaders and passing laws that both protect the environment and advance societal progress, lest their world be destroyed.

With Eco and our future games, we have committed ourselves to making a difference in climate change, using what we believe is the most powerful medium that exists, interactive games.

Lots more to come as we expand Eco into greater depth and fidelity, as well as future games that will take this mission to new places.  It’s great to have your support.

Check out press coverage with a quote from me on USA Today:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2019/09/24/companies-behind-playstation-xbox-twitch-tackle-climate-change-un/2427835001/

“Strange Loop Games has ecological issues at the heart of its simulation game “Eco.” Players collaborate to build a civilization and confront its impacts on the environment. If they cut down too many trees, for example, they might kill off a species. ‘For us, it’s less about telling the player about being green or avoiding climate change than letting them have that experience, letting them face that challenge themselves in a world that they care about,” CEO John Krajewski said in an interview. “And then they can bring that to the real world.’”

Some more photos from our time at the United Nations Climate Summit:

We’re looking forward to share our progress with you on this front, and we’re hard at work on the Eco 9.0 update which is slated to arrive soon. Thanks to all our Eco players and supporters, with your support these last five years we’ve come a long way, and we’re just getting started.

– Team Eco

The Eco Team is a collection of introverted and sometimes genius programmers/designers based in Seattle and Australia. We all grew up and thrive in the video game culture, so of course making them is our dream job. We look forward to continuing to put out quality games for the community of players.

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