For the last few years, we have heard how video games could be the secret weapon that will get people interested in sustainability, from saving energy to conserving waterways to building urban areas. We've seen everything from Facebook games to Minecraft hacks to green versions of SimCity. Yet nothing has really taken off. Are video games ever going to be a tool for environmental awareness?
Cleantechnica notes, "[A] trend is growing among video game developers and players to use games to teach about the impacts of energy use on our cities and environment... While gaming can help individuals learn about energy use, researchers say the larger world of networked gaming enables players to work together on real-world energy solutions."
Here is a great segment from energyNOW! correspondent Lee Patrick Sullivan that goes into detail about the role of video games in environmentalism.
Yes, video games are a big part of our culture. And yes, it could be possible to build games that are teaching tools. But will they affect real life behavior? Will they make enough of a difference to offset the energy used to play them? Will any of that happen soon? It's hard to say at this point whether or not the state of the environment and the impacts of our actions will really break into gaming in a big way and, further, break out of gaming and into real life in a big way -- but game designers are certainly not giving up.