Utrecht, Netherlands

Ecogames: The Role of Playful Media in Sustainability Awareness, Communication and Action

when 21 August 2023 - 25 September 2023
language English
duration 5 weeks
credits 2.5 EC
fee EUR 300

With the impending climate crisis and its short-term repercussions becoming more ‘tangible’ every year, popular media and especially games are increasingly moving into the center of attention. Whether these so-called ‘ecogames’ can provide new spaces to experiment with alternative forms of sustainable practices and communal organization, or simply reproduce ecomodernist fantasies, both digital and analogue games as well as the player cultures emerging around them are tuned in to many of the pressing environmental concerns we face today. The summer course builds on and contributes to a growing body of scholarship that explores this phenomenon, and aims to situate it within the broader field of environmental humanities as well as, more specifically, green media studies, to complement existing research traditions that focus e.g. on environmental cinema, documentaries, or television.

We explore key concepts and methodologies derived from previous ecogames research, combining the expertise of lecturers working at Utrecht University – both at the Center for Games and Play and the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development – with guest lecturers – both on site and virtually via MS Teams – from our partner institutions in other European countries and beyond. Participants will analyze representations of ecological and/or environmental transformations in games, employ creative metagaming practices to enrich climate communication/education, and critically engage with the multifaceted role (and carbon footprint) of the digital and analogue games industries in the process.

In collaboration with the focus area Game Research and the strategic theme Pathways to Sustainability at Utrecht University, we are planning to make small scholarships available to financially support applicants with e.g. higher-than-normal travel costs or other disadvantageous circumstances. We will post more details on this website soon!

Course leader

Dr. Stefan Werning

Target group

The core audience of this course are students on Master/Research Master level, primarily in the fields of media and culture studies as well as sustainability studies (other disciplinary perspectives are of course very welcome); as ecogames research constitutes an emerging research area, the course is also suitable for PhD candidates with a dissertation projects related to sustainability and/or media.

Moreover, the course addresses practitioners in various societal sectors (education, policy, NGOs, PR etc.) working on issues related to sustainability and resilient communities, who are interested in learning about how games and gaming can support their professional practices and goals.

Fee info

EUR 300: Course fee