Playing Nature

Alenda Y. Chang
Film and Media Studies
UC Santa Barbara

Playing Nature proposes radically new methods of game analysis and design, structured around key concepts and terms from ecology and environmental science. Part of a broader impulse to reconcile new media theory with environmental criticism, this ecological approach to video games seeks to expand game studies beyond isolated considerations of players, machines, or code, to encompass the environmental contents and contexts of play‚ from the resource dynamics and procedural generation of virtual worlds to the increasingly transient spaces in which we game. Historically speaking, too, games have been neglected as part of a greater cultural response to ecological crisis. With a particular interest in the modeling of place, system, and scalar imagination, Playing Nature suggests several ways to rethink existing game taxonomies and theories of agency, while revealing surprising fundamental similarities between game play and scientific work.