Judging from the flood of negative comments our blog receives whenever we mention environmental awareness in a positive light, our readers aren’t particularly interested in the plight of Mother Earth.
In the popular imagination of the internet, the image of environmentalism seems forever entwined with annoying self-righteousness, hippy nonsense, PETA-loving, tree-hugging, soft-headed simpering, and general popular culture annoyance. "Green" just isn’t resonating with the “kids today,” especially gamers. Our favorite hobby isn’t exactly sustainable. It uses a ton of electricity, and the “big three” console-makers aren’t known as champions of environmentalism anyway. Who wants to feel bad about doing what they love?
But still, tomorrow is Earth Day, so everyone will be all “recycle your Diet Pepsi can!”, but you probably won’t worry about it too much. Not that you should worry about it, necessarily. I get it. Real progress on “environmental issues” probably won't happen without the (usually forced) cooperation of large corporate institutions and governments, so drinking your coffee from a cornstarch disposable cup tomorrow won’t make that much difference, unless everyone does it, forever. And everyone won’t, unless there is money to be made. If there were nothing but cornstarch cups available, we’d use them. But that would make Big-Cup lose money, and that’s not going to happen any time soon in the real world.
Instead, we’ll all continue enjoying our exciting lifestyles of cyber-tronic entertainment awesome while being vaguely aware and annoyed by cloying messages of Green awareness. Then, when the ecological tipping point is finally reached, we’ll either have some technological solution that will Save Humanity (but at what cost??!) or we won’t.
If we don’t, our world will be reduced to a barren, charred husk, barely able to support the few, ravaged living skeletons that are left of humanity. Those poor souls (your grandchildren?) will spend their days desperately digging through the rubble-scape of major cities for tin-cans of pumpkin pie filling that some survivalist left behind in a fallout shelter back in 1986. Happy Earth Day, everybody!
But if I’ve learned anything from video games, I’ve learned that the people of the future may be broken shells of misery, stubbornly clinging to a parody of “life,” but at least they’ll enjoy guns, money and colorful helmets.
Here are some of the most terrible civilizations video games have given us to look forward to.
Fallout 3: Yeah, it takes place after a nuclear apocalypse rather than an environmental one, but strip away the radiation and the mutants, and Fallout’s bleak world could all take place in a post-fossil fuel future. Fallout 3 is depressing, sure, but the saving grace of that Apocalypse is the fact that Might-makes-Right in the Wasteland. As long as you have a way with a shotgun, you can take anything you like from the sheep who make up suburban Washington D.C.’s barely alive settlements. Plus, there are a lot of interesting and colorful characters to hang out with and shoot in the face. I bet I'd have lots of friends if I lived in Fallout 3. Also, for the record, exposure to radiation doesn’t really turn you into a green-skinned super-human. It gives you lymphoma.
Borderlands: Borderlands is set on the planet of Pandora, named for the box that contained all the evil in the world. Pandora is an ecological worst-case-scenario, where an entire civilization has been reduced to dried-up ruins, and all anyone does is scavenge the riches of a long dead race. Everyone is after the real haul, though, a rumored cache of wealth that's been protected by the original inhabitant of the planet. Spoiler alert: The world is called "Pandora," so you don't exactly get rich by unsealing the "box."
Gears of War: Gears is a big allegory for our relation to fossil fuel. Human society on Sera finds a power-giving, radioactive liquid and it causes havoc between nations to the point that Imulsion-poor nations attack Imulsion-rich nations, and humans are weakened enough to allow the attack by the Locust. See, if everyone on Sera was a good little hippie and shared his or her energy, the Locust would have stayed underground where the things belonged. Happy
Earth Sera Day!
Sonic CD – 16-bit games weren’t usually big on story, but if you fail to save the past in Sonic CD, you end up playing the game in an environmentally ruined future. Not exactly deep symbolism, but what can you expect from a game starring a blue hedgehog?
Cup-and-Ball – A lot of people put down cup-and-ball for its lack of story and its repetitive gameplay, but the graphics are amazing and the physics are excellent. Plus, in the post ecological disaster future, cup and ball might be the only game in town.