Greening the System: Exploring the Impact of Ecocritical Modding of The Sims 4 on our Sustainable Imaginaries
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This thesis explores the impact of modifying the commercial video game The Sims 4 within the search for sustainable imaginaries to combat the climate crisis. The climate crisis’ origin has been traced back to the era of Columbus, which saw the rise of both capitalism and the dynamics of global empire. As a simulation game based on capitalist logic, The Sims 4 can be used as a tool to challenge built-in assumptions of capitalism. By employing a diachronic proceduralist method, and by using Donella Meadows’ insights on systems theory, Amitav Ghosh’ postcolonial insight, Matt Huber’s class critique, and George Lakoff’s understanding of framing, this thesis explores how The Sims 4, with emphasis on the The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle expansion, connects to current popular debates surrounding sustainability (e.g. the ecological footprint, clean energy, and dumpster diving). Then, by having collected 187 mods and by understanding modding as a form of metagaming, this thesis looks into dominant patterns of ecocritical mod creation (‘ecomodding’). Modding games is an active creative way for fans to engage with the source material, allowing them to participate by criticising and nuancing the discourses of sustainability this game connects to. Finally, through employing an auto-ethnographic method, the author created two new ecomods to explore ecomodding as a valuable educational experience to develop ecological citizenship.