Ecogaming in the past tense: promises, deceptions and learning opportunities

Ecogaming in the past tense: promises, deceptions and learning opportunities

It is very easy to find in discussions of computer games and ecology, especially in times when green games seem to consolidate as a genre within computer game typology, the assumption that gaming can help (if not directly “save”) the environment, by making use of climate change communication, or even by prompting the direct climate action of individuals through gamification strategies. We should not disregard such a drive for change, especially if one considers how urgent and porous the challenges regarding the current environmental crisis are. If biodiversity and ecosystems as we know them are at stake as we venture through the Anthropocene (Dirzo et al. 2014), the voluntary efforts from a diverse set of scientific disciplines and sectors of contemporary society in mitigating the effects of anthropogenic climate change are expected and desirable. It is also not strange that today such impulses for active intervention embody the prospects of gamification, that is, the process of permeation of our society with methods, metaphors, values, and attributes of games (Fuchs 2011), more often than not surrounded by streams of enthusiasm and sheer optimism.

Yet, as fresh as they might seem under a presentist perspective, the motivations and utopias to ‘save the planet’ through gaming are not at all new. Methods such as media archaeology (Ferreira 2020, Parikka & Huhtamo 2011) provide us with an opportunity, among other things, to rescue forgotten artifacts which have been erased by the canonical history written over a determinate subject or which were simply forgotten by the constant drive of contemporary societies for novelty. This of course strikes a highly sensitive nerve in the case of computer games, as in discourses surrounding digital media and the information technology industry more broadly, considering the economic and political prominence that technological innovations have in these sectors. Therefore it is no surprise that the past of technical media as such has to be constantly retrieved through careful historical or media-archaeological examination (Reinhardt 2018, Guins 2014, Fischer 2013, Krapp 2011). In this sense, the history of ecological games should not work that differently from the cyclical history of ecological thought, which has been renewed over past decades, and — not by accident — re-enacted with much more intensity in recent years throughout different disciplines (Veiga 2019).

With this call, we do not wish to merely point with a nostalgic verve to preceding educational ecological games, nor to simply point towards a historical recurrence. Instead, we seek to highlight more specifically how discussions concerning ecogames from the past (as well as their potential and promises for change) are missing from current perspectives on gaming. By retrieving them, it should also be possible to better evaluate what are the assumptions, as well as the promises, successes and limitations in motivating players to engage with ecological perspectives and environmental action through games. Moreover, this exercise should probe what else can be learned by digging up the forgotten artifacts and histories of educational ecological games and gaming materials oriented toward climate action.

For this Special Issue of the Convergências Journal, we are particularly interested in proposals dedicated to discussing the following topics:

  • Histories of the development of ecological games.
  • Intersections between the history of games and ecological thinking.
  • Intersections between the history of ecology and playfulness.
  • Media archaeological accounts of forgotten ecological games.
  • Archaeogaming approaches to ecological games from the recent and
    long past.
  • History on the role of play in climate change communication.
  • History of games in campaigning for climate action.
  • History of in-game ecocriticism.
  • Deep-times of gaming and natural histories of digital games.
  • History of resource management associated with game production,
    distribution and consumption.
  • History of the relationship of the games industry with regulations
    and policies toward sustainability.
  • Material dimensions of game technology as technofossils of the
  • Sociotechnical approaches to games as a form of ecological knowledge
    and of knowing.


  • Article submissions: 30.11.2022
  • Confirmation of acceptance/rejection: 15.01.2023
  • Publication: Early 2023

To submit, kindly read the Author Guidelines and register on the journal website:

All articles will be anonymously peer reviewed by two experts. No payments will be required from contributing authors. For any questions please contact the editors of this special issue:

/Eduardo Luersen, University of Konstanz – (eduardo.luersen /at/ /

/Camila de Ávila, Unisinos University – (caavila /at/ /

/Emmanoel Ferreira, Federal Fluminense University – (emmanoelf /at/ /