3 September, 2020
During lockdown, gaming company EA launched The Sims 4 expansion pack: ‘Eco Lifestyle‘. Players learn eco-friendly skills like using renewable energy, living in shipping containers, designing tech for a greener future, and community activism.
The new edition is set in a world designed to show the negative impacts of climate change and the inter-connections of behaviour. Player activities impact on their local environment and neighbourhoods, which other players then feel the effects of – for example, coughing because of air pollution that has been generated. Players can transform the game’s trash-ridden neighbourhood by taking environmental action to restore its former greenery.
And they can even choose personality types like ‘freegans’ who derive happiness from recycling, and whose philosophy in real-life is to reject unethical consumerism (by boycotting it altogether).
This is a far cry from the plentiful extra ‘Stuff’ expansion packs that encourage consumerism – ‘My First Pet Stuff’, ‘Cool Kitchen Stuff’ – and even ‘Laundry Day Stuff’ to make sure you really have everything you need… Along with The Sims finally tackling their limited range of darker skin tones for players, it feels like the game is responding to real-world environmental and political concerns.
‘Eco Lifestyle’ allows us to visualise the impacts of global warming in a way that we are not usually confronted with and see how our actions really can change its course. And if kids, and adults alike, are going to be playing video games anyway, they might as well learn to be environmental champions whilst they’re at it!
By Cara McEvoy