One of the many awesome games I was fortunate enough to play at PAX Prime 2015 was Eco, a multi-user global survival game by Strange Loop Games. Currently 160% funded on Kickstarter, Eco is expected to launch January 2017. With the ultimate goal of saving the world from the impending destruction of the Earth by an incoming massive meteor, the game is part ecosystem simulation, part world survival, and much of your progress towards achieving the world-saving goal is dependent on group decisions and collaboration.
The environment is designed with many interdependent plants and animals. Your actions through the obtaining and processing of resources affect the balance of the ecosystem. As a group, the players must find a balance through their activities and by voting on laws based on the data provided about the ecosystem. Activities that benefit the individual can harm the group.
Strange Loop Games is creating a game that attempts to model the complexities of the real world, where actions in one area result in possibly undesirable results in another. They plan on allowing mods, and making them easy to integrate across the player base.
We want to make Eco the foundation platform for a new type of game: games that feature detailed simulations that run continuously, persistent worlds full of players that can change not only the physical landscape but the social and biological landscape, defining how new kinds of ecosystems and economies and governments function. We plan to develop this game openly with the community, and can’t wait to see what people come up with.
This game would be an excellent addition to many different types of classrooms, such as environmental studies or social studies. With a student population that, from my experience, spends a good deal of time thinking about what to do in an apocalypse (go straight to Costco!), students would play the game as their homework, mining, hunting, and building, with class-time being where the students would discuss the ramifications of their actions, vote on laws, and discuss parallels with the real world. Eco is an excellent hook to get students thinking about and discussing these important topics.
The name Eco is short for the two primary mechanics of the game: ecology and economy. Together they are essential to human survival, and the game lies at the difficult intersection of the two.
There is a great deal more information on the Eco – Global Survival Game Kickstarter as well as the Strange Loop Games website. There are only a couple days left on the Kickstarter, so if you’re interested in it for yourself, or in one of their classroom bundles, check it out now!