Are there games that present actually solutions to issues we’re facing, rather than merely happening within the framework of the the Earth dying?
You looking for videogames or tabletop?
And are environmental themes good enough? Or you want actual positive resolutions of global environmental crisis?
Any format/platform, even closed (academic curation), for positive resolutions.
While ive got a handfull of videogames in my brain with environmental themes a lot of them tackle environmental problems in a sort of captain-planet esque way or in a vague way which doesn’t confront a specific large scale problem. Neither of which is what I feel your looking for.
Two tabletop RPGs come to mind, which would provide good frameworks for allowing people to explore this.
I have played neither however. I know them mostly by reputation. Both are on my “too play” docket.
I will add I am very interested to other answers to this question.
When you spawn in Factorio, you find yourself alone on an alien planet. Your goal is to build a rocketship so you can go home. However, your factories pollute the air; as you use resources and release toxins, the planet’s creatures come attack you out of anger that you’re ruining their planet. I was surprised that this was built into the very premise of the game.
Of course, Factorio is in no way about solving the problem. You are rewarded for polluting then building guns to shoot the indigenous bug creatures that are angry you’re poisoning their home then building automated guns then running ammo to them with conveyor belts. It’s awesome. And definitely not about using fewer resources. Well, you could play the game that way, and some do for the challenge, but most are just here to watch the world burn.
It would be generous to say that Factorio is an environmentalist game. It could be, for some people, if they reach the conclusion that the only way to go to space is to ruin the planet, or just as a forcing function to think about the expenditure and reduce waste. It is a part of peoples’ strategy when playing vanilla Factorio to not be wasteful, especially early on, to delay the aliens attacking for as long as possible. I’ve never seen a friend delay it forever, though. It doesn’t seem to be the point.
And it’s kind of funny that the game makers had to give us a deus ex machina in the form of aliens (to us; they’re just home, to them) as punishment for polluting.
I’d like to add, ive been toying with the idea lately of what a Libertarian municipalism / Social ecology sim game might look like. As if it were a city level sim game, but instead of being the mayor or the government; from one’s own bird’s eye view the player could run and manage multiple street level activist groups to slowly inacting social and ecological change.
Oh. I learned at some point in the past couple of years that the Oddworld franchise was launched specifically by it’s creator as an artistic work that provides a narrative of resisting capitalism’s exploitation of workers and the destruction of the environment. This got it added to my queue as something to visit. I am not familiar with how well it exceeds at it’s goal; but that was a major influence for the early games according to the creator.
ALSO more in the vague captain planet category. But I keep wanting to play Eco Creatures: Save The Forest on Nintendo DS. Mainly because it looks fun and cute.
EDIT: Just look at the box art!
I don’t think this is exactly what you are looking for, but I think a couple of Avery Alder’s games deal with coping as a community in situations of scarcity:
This Quiet Year hack focused on “monstrosity” and decolonization looks really really interesting: