Gaming

Environment at the heart of next-generation concerns in video games

For three years now, the Montreal studio Reflector has been imposing social topics on ISART students. Last year, the directive was to make the game accessible to people on the autism spectrum. This year, it was the environment that sparked class discussions, leading to Lorekheim: Rise of a Fallen World, a single-player game that criticizes overconsumption.

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In this game, you are a guardian of nature who is trying to keep the environment in balance. [Pour y arriver]you must use your resources responsiblysummarizes Joanna Bendaud, Artistic Director of the game.

The character, for example, must be careful not to use up all of their resources, otherwise they will not be updated.

Players must avoid over-consuming resources throughout the game.

Photo: ISART Digital

We wanted to recreate this environmental butterfly effect in the game. If you consume too much, it will affect your gameplay and the experience will be more difficult. [À l’inverse]if you return the energy to [ressources]you will change your environment in a positive way, […] opening up new avenues likeexplains Xavier Rouyet, game designer.

And all this materializes visually: a viscous mass, similar to oil, called corruption students, takes over the environment when resources are overused.

We really wanted the player to understand that it is his choice that leads him to the end of the game, as it happens in everyday life: we must be careful in what we do, because there are consequences. »

Quote from Joanna Bendoud

Thus, the game focuses on the future, not the end result. It’s a very innovative game mechanic, according to Christopher Simbaro, Reflector’s CTO, who has overseen the ISART cohorts for three years.

A futuristic video game character is about to jump over ominous rocks.

What the students in the game call “decomposition”, a viscous mass like oil, symbolizes the impact of man on nature.

Photo: ISART Digital

The way to deal with an enemy is also very different from what is used in most traditional games: instead of destroying them, the goal is to attack them with energy in order to cleanse them.

More green reflections

Before starting to create this game, ISART students were not left empty-handed. For inspiration and even information, Reflector staff and college students took part in workshops and conferences hosted by Hugo Asselin, an environmental expert and lecturer at the University of Quebec Montreal (UQAM).

[On voulait] train students to develop accurate and verified information contentwe can read in the press release.

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Among the most startling data presented during these information sessions, Xavier Rouyet cites that the world’s video game industry emits as much carbon as the automotive industry in Quebec.

I am well aware that making a video game about the environment can be ironic. I thought about it a lothe mentions.

While I was working on the game, I came to terms with it. ‘Cause we’re not an AAA studio [superproduction]and this is a means of self-expression on an important topiccontinues Xavier Royer.

Video games are one of the most viewed media in the world and it affects many people. It’s a good way to send messages. »

Quote from Dorian Duroyaume, environmental artist and level designer

Environmental issues also matter when it comes to choosing whether the game will only be played in single player or online multiplayer. The fact is that multiplayer games require the use of servers that are energy intensive.

This is one of the reasons, besides technical issues, that led Lorekheim: Rise of a Fallen World to be a single-player game.

Just because the video game industry isn’t the best in terms of the environment doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about. We have a way to hear this message [à grande échelle]insists Christopher Simbaro.

The exercise also prompted Reflector Entertainment to buy carbon credits from Carbone Boréal. An initiative led by the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi (UQAC) has resulted in the planting of 50 trees in the province.

Perfect Succession

After graduation, ISART students intend to continue to express their opinions on the topic of the environment. Joanna Bendaud, for example, had an internship at a studio that deals with this very topic.

As a character artist, I have a hard time sorting through job postings on this topic. [car il n’y en a pas des tonnes]. But for me, it’s always a plus if the studio is committed to the environment, whether it’s the subject of the game, the subject matter, or even if the company is making efforts in this direction.Joanna Bendaud emphasizes.

Group photo in class in front of video game poster and school poster.

“Lorekheim: Rise of a Fallen World” was created by eight students and students of the ISART Digital school. The students were accompanied by mentors from the Montreal studio Reflector Entertainment.

Photo: ISART Digital

For Xavier Royer, who is currently working on personal projects, this is even a topic that he intends to promote in his future work in the video game industry.

It changed my approach to video game design. Even if the game is not designed to deal with difficult topics [comme l’environnement]we can successfully integrate it into discussions. »

Quote from Xavier Royer

Dorian Duroyaum starts a new job in the video game industry. He hopes to be able to talk about various topics of social value, not just the environment.

Lorekheim: Rise of a Fallen World demo can be downloaded from Itch.io. (New window)

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