Ecogames: The Role of Playful Media in Sustainability Awareness, Communication and Action

Course code
Course fee
Course Level

With the impending climate crisis and its short-term repercussions becoming more ‘tangible’ every year, popular media and especially games are increasingly moving into the center of attention. Whether these so-called ‘ecogames’ can provide new spaces to experiment with alternative forms of sustainable practices and communal organization, or simply reproduce ecomodernist fantasies, both digital and analogue games as well as the player cultures emerging around them are tuned in to many of the pressing environmental concerns we face today. The summer course builds on and contributes to a growing body of scholarship that explores this phenomenon, and aims to situate it within the broader field of environmental humanities as well as, more specifically, green media studies, to complement existing research traditions that focus e.g. on environmental cinema, documentaries, or television.

We explore key concepts and methodologies derived from previous ecogames research, combining the expertise of lecturers working at Utrecht University – both at the Center for Games and Play and the Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development – with guest lecturers – both on site and virtually via MS Teams – from our partner institutions in other European countries and beyond. Participants will analyze representations of ecological and/or environmental transformations in games, employ creative metagaming practices to enrich climate communication/education, and critically engage with the multifaceted role (and carbon footprint) of the digital and analogue games industries in the process.

In collaboration with the focus area Game Research and the strategic theme Pathways to Sustainability at Utrecht University, we are planning to make small scholarships available to financially support applicants with e.g. higher-than-normal travel costs or other disadvantageous circumstances. We will post more details on this website soon!

Course director
Dr. Stefan Werning

Target audience

The core audience of this course are students on Master/Research Master level, primarily in the fields of media and culture studies as well as sustainability studies (other disciplinary perspectives are of course very welcome); as ecogames research constitutes an emerging research area, the course is also suitable for PhD candidates with a dissertation projects related to sustainability and/or media.

Moreover, the course addresses practitioners in various societal sectors (education, policy, NGOs, PR etc.) working on issues related to sustainability and resilient communities, who are interested in learning about how games and gaming can support their professional practices and goals. 

Study load

On each of the five days we will organise two interconnected core workshops that relate to the theme of the day, subdivided into plenary and working group sessions. This will be accompanied by supplementary formats such as practice-oriented tutorials and optional social activities. For most workshops, you are expected to read one preparatory texts; some also involve the use of digital tools, yet do not require any previous knowledge or technical background.


Course fee:
Fee covers
Course + course materials + lunch
Extra information about the fee

Since the summer school takes place directly before the start of the new academic year (in the Netherlands), housing via SSH is not available during this week. We can provide information on and arrangements with affordable housing options in or near the city centre of Utrecht, specifically for participants from outside the Netherlands.

More information

Dr. Stefan Werning | Associate Professor for New Media and Game Studies 

Faculty of Humanities | Utrecht University | Muntstraat 2A | Room T2.13A | NL-3512 EV Utrecht

E: S.werning@uu.nlT: +31 30 253 9729 | +49 1573 785 7271


Application deadline: 
Registration deadline
01 August 2022