Some of the biggest names in gaming recently convened in New York at the UN Climate Action Summit to discuss what the videogame industry can do to improve its environmental impact. The Playing for the Planet initiative aims to promote a positive environmental outlook for the future and to improve the environmental impact of gaming, with solutions ranging from sourcing more eco-friendly materials to making carbon-neutral consoles.
Ubisoft was there to discuss its own strategies and ideas, as well as to announce a new environmentally focused project: Project Oikos, a local co-op gaming experience that teaches players how cooperation can be much more rewarding and efficient in times of crisis.
In Project Oikos, players take charge of a small ecosystem containing four species. All four species, and the overall health of the pond, are all interdependent. As soon as a play session begins, the ecosystem will start to become unbalanced, and players are tasked with working together to restore and maintain the balance of the pond.
Project Oikos is an ambitious attempt to design a game to raise awareness among players regarding the challenges of the 21st century. Without lecturing or guilt-tripping, the game encourages players to cooperate to keep the environment healthy and balanced. The game is programmed to use ‘biomimicry', or imitating nature, to affect outcomes. If one ecological system fails, then all begin to fail; the relationships between plants and animals within the environment have a direct effect on each other, and issues affecting one species can affect others. If there are too many birds and not enough worms, for example, the birds will have nothing to eat and the environment becomes unbalanced.
Project Oikos is being developed by the Ubisoft Strategic Innovation Lab, an internal team that works to anticipate future development paths for the company, going beyond the borders of the entertainment industry to spot tech trends, revolutions in the business world, and social changes. Stay tuned to Ubisoft News for more updates on Project Oikos' development.