Beyond Fallout - Analyzing the use of (sustainable) futures in the game sector
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In the presence of the Anthropocene, human behavior is considered to be the cause as well as the solution to current and upcoming issues of global environmental problems. Creating pathways towards sustainable development is therefore a crucial next step. Imagining these pathways is a difficult endeavor, however integrating collective imaginings about the future may be fruitful for creating pathways. These imaginings are referred to as futures social imaginaries in this research. With the media being a conveyer of social norms and beliefs, commercial games make a unique type of media, that could potentially already impact these future social imaginaries by the futures these games are displaying. Therefore, this study examines the depiction of futures within commercial games that are expected to be of preliminary dystopic nature as well as having a possible effect on the players. To collect this data, a collaborative framework was developed that examines the futures type, game design and more specific content of the games by a set of explorative and descriptive indicators, allowing to map the games into the different futures they show. As a next step, interviews with various different actors from the commercial game sector were conducted to identify potential drivers and barriers to diversify futures within games by making recommendations for changing the game sector. This research indicates a prevalence of bleak dystopic worlds within commercial games and assumes an impact on the player’s futures social imaginaries, though drawing exact results is difficult. Instead, this study stresses the importance of the complexity of player agency that might actively help to develop and or improve futures literacy skills of the players. Therefore, incorporating a more diverse set of futures into the game sector as well as advocating interactive complexity might make commercial games a(n) (entertaining) tool for enhancing public capabilities to imagine pathways to desirable and sustainable futures.