This jam is now over. It ran from 2021-03-25 00:00:00 to 2021-03-28 22:59:59. View 15 entries

Ecology shares a root with economy, and in the case of videogames, these concepts seem inherently linked. 

The mainstream games industry currently piles up a massive ecological cost when it comes to game development and distribution, with intensive energy demands and the creation of e-waste through rapid console cycles and hardware upgrades. The demands that are unsustainable for the ecosystem also create careers that are exploitative and precarious for many in the industry, as recent organizing efforts demonstrate. The worst consequences are also unevenly distributed, with conflict mineral mining and improper e-waste disposal most profoundly affecting the poorest regions of the world.

A change in the economics of games, or the game development ecosystem, can likewise change their ecological impact. Game development collectives and experimental solo developers have worked towards more equitable relationships in their work, and made games that reach broader, less high-tech audiences. Enthusiasts refurbish “obsolete” technologies, and historians perform important critical work to deflate the hype cycles that ring in the new at the expense of remembering the old. Even games themselves can present awareness of these issues in new ways, and allow us to play with the relationships and rules that make an economy, or an ecosystem. 

There is much work to be done towards justice in these areas, but emerging games, critical writing, historical work and ways of working together in this area present exciting potential. This activity brings together experimental game design and games criticism to create a space for discussion, responses and calls to action on the theme of games, ecosystems, and economies. Contributions to the jam can be answers, considerations, calls to action or playful responses to these questions, and can take the form of a blog post, zine, comic, game, rule set or any other creative medium. 

Questions to Consider:

  • What could a fairer economy of funding, developing and purchasing games look like? 
  • What can we learn from how games represent economies, or how they represent ecosystems? 
  • How can you represent real or speculative economies and ecosystems in games? 
  • How can we write about specific games from an ecological perspective?
  • How can we make videogames (and the technologies we need to run them) more ecologically sustainable? 

Examples and Inspiration:

Now Play This has commissioned three example entries to showcase the variety of formats and perspective jam entries can take!

Kara Stone, a Canadian artist working in videogames, often making pieces about mental illness, disability, and the environment, contributed a Twine game entitled "Practicing Utopia."

James Morwood, a game maker and zine enthusiast who loves finding new ways to play and be playful with others, and has run zine jams in Bristol, Dundee and online contributed a mini-zine entitled "Modding as Mending."

Melos Han-Tani, a Tokyo-based Japanese/Taiwanese-American game developer known for the Anodyne series, Even the Ocean and other games, contributed a mini-essay entitled "Everyday Layers."

Here are some additional articles and short games to get you thinking about the jam theme!


March 25th-28th, 2021


  1. Decide on a topic related to ecology/economy and gaming to explore with your entry
  2. Make a response to it, which can take the form of a piece of writing, playful intervention or call to action.
  3. If you are referencing existing texts, clearly credit them.
  4. Share it on the jam page!


During the jam there will be a few chances to share, collaborate and discuss your work so far. 

March 25th at 5:30 PM GMT: Festival Opening and Interest Check - Join us in the Topias festival space (will be added when the festival starts) for an introduction to the jam theme and opportunities to ask questions or find others to collaborate with.
March 27th at 11:00 AM GMT: In-Progress Discussion and Sharing - On Saturday we will be meeting in the festival's Discord channel to discuss our ideas and progress so far! It's also a great time to jump in if you haven't already.
March 28th at 6:00 PM GMT: Closing Presentations - At the end of the festival there will be an opportunity to share your work in the festival's Discord channel as well!


  • Explore critical essays and gaming related topics using Critical Distance's search function
  • Contact me on Twitter if you have any further questions or concerns: @netgal_emi
  • Check out the Now Play This website for more information on check-ins and sharing sessions throughout the jam

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All submissions
Browser playable (6)
Windows (2)
macOS (1)

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you live in the void now
Play in browser
A quick reflection on the lessons of a terrifying SimCity
Made for the Alternative Ecologies Jam
its heart of marble housing birds who sang like lost machines
A cute narrative puzzle about low-tech
Interactive Fiction
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Submission for Alternative Ecologies Jam
A game about progress
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Instructions for comparative planetology
we owe our lives to a delicate substrate that we may soon destroy
A trio of one-day games, on Google Slides + WhatsApp, 3-4hour responses to the Alternative Ecologies Jam.
short riff on Coleridge's poem for the Alternative Ecologies jam
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A short post on consoles, travel, history for Alternative Ecologies Jam