From Seattle, United States, the developer Strange Loop Games launched a few months ago Eco, a video game that is played online, and in which players must agree to manage their ecosystem and not destroy it in the attempt. Through a simulation, the game aims to raise awareness about how different elements influence the sustainability of the environment and how the decisions we make affect them.
Already a few decades ago there was another video game called Echo. It was developed in 1988 by the British company Denton Designs for the Amiga and Atari ST but, in the vein of many of the best video games of the 90s, the goal was to survive. To do this, the player handled an insect that had to face different predators and adverse situations.
Also through Facebook, a few years ago, some Mexican university students presented Treepet, which focused on tree care and aimed to raise funds for organizations dedicated to the reforestation of forests.
The difference, what makes Echo from Strange Loop Games more interesting is that it goes to the root of the problem. Players are responsible for agreeing and making the appropriate decisions. The consequences of our actions can be observed in the first person, for better or for worse. In Eco, players must collaborate to build the economic and technological structure of a world in which everything they do affects the environment, and also do it under the threat of a meteorite impact.
Eco is in the vein of the popular Minecraft, a construction game that takes place in an “open world”, that is, it is the players themselves who create it. However, the background is very different. Eco is very connected with reality. For example, one of its most interesting characteristics is that the decisions that are made cause consequences that can be measured; We can consult the data and see the real evolution of the world that we are generating, information that is collected using scientific methods. This is information that, in real life, we normally do not have access until it is too late.
John Krajewski introduced Eco in 2015 as a Kickstarter project that soon raised the necessary funds to begin development. In February of this year it was made available on Steam as an “early access” game.
Eco will have early access for one year. During that time, it is expected that the community of players will help to polish and improve the game with a constant exchange with the developers. You have to take into account the complexity of simulating a complete ecosystem, with thousands of species of plants and animals that “live” 24 hours a day, every day of the week. And on that, different industries, transport, production chains and even the nutrition system of the players are generated.
This video game allows players to even control their caloric intake. Food is one of the clearest examples of how everything is interconnected; behind a plate of pasta with tomato there is a whole story. In addition to working with food, Eco also includes commercial and labor exchanges, or the creation of economic systems and laws.
A virtual world in which each one, as a member of a community, is responsible for their actions. Every action, no matter how everyday, has its consequences on the environment.