Today is Earth Day, the annual celebration of our big green planet and all it does to keep us alive. Started in 1970 as a way to highlight support for protecting our environment, this year marks the 50th anniversary of humanity's first steps on the road to cleaning up our world. Since then, Earth Day has ballooned out into a week of activities to combat and raise awareness of environmental plights. And while gaming exists in a virtual plane, separated from the real world by screens, there are some games that can help us out. Whether that's with positive environmental messages or very literally repairing the damage of deforestation, these are the games that will help save our world this Earth Day.
Super Mario Sunshine
Mario games have always been fun and cartoony, with a singular battle of good versus evil at the heart of the story. But even under the madcap antics of Mario's tropical vacation, Sunshine was clearly a call to arms for environmental activists everywhere. Cleaning up the oil slicks of paint left behind by a careless Bowser Jr, and setting right countless other environmental mishaps, Mario and Fludd are the eco heroes we need right now.
Going even further in its messaging than cleaning up a few paint spills, Final Fantasy 7 is one of the most politically charged games of our lifetime. Even the likes of Missile Command, set against the backdrop of the Cold War, hasn't had as profound a message to deliver as FF7. And now with FF7 Remake hitting our screens, we can relive the exploits of AVALANCHE, an eco-terrorist group determined to stop the damage being done to the planet by the Shinra Corporation. Don't go out and blow up the nearest Mako reactor, but do carry forward that fighting spirit to save your planet from the evils of overfarming and industrialization.
League of Legends (but only if you're in FlyQuest)
League of Legends might not be the first game anyone thinks of when it comes to tree planting, especially given the sparse number of trees on the Rift. But thanks to one professional esports team, you can rest assured that the environment is in good hands regardless of whether your team picks Ivern or not. FlyQuest embarked on a TreeQuest of their own, to plant a tree for every kill, drake and win they achieved in the Spring season. Between the main LCS and Academy teams, FlyQuest have planted more than 8,440 trees so far, with more still to come. Green team Nexus standing strong!
You don't have to be a top-flight LoL team to help plant more trees, either. Online browser-based quiz games at Plant The Peace will reseed the planet with one more tree every time you get 10 answers correct. It's educational AND good for the environment, and if you're looking for something to keep the kids occupied while they're stuck inside it's a perfect double win.
Ring Fit Adventure
Part of keeping the planet healthy is keeping ourselves healthy. And on this particular Earth Day, where we are still stuck inside as part of coronavirus precautions, that can seem difficult. However games like Ring Fit Adventure promote not just physical health, but mental health of continual improvement, and exercise. If we're to continue looking after the Earth for many centuries to come, me have to look after ourselves first, and that all starts with doing your crunches every day!
Many games with environmental themes are about repairing damage done to nature, but Stardew Valley goes further in promoting a mindset of working with nature as well. Choosing to help the Junimo and complete the community center fosters a sense of togetherness not just with the residents of Pelican Valley, but with the forest sprites themselves. In Japanese mythology and folklore, every part of nature has its own guardian spirit, and nurturing our plants and rivers and forests is humanity's role in the ecosystem. Remind yourself of what that feels like by growing a wonderful farm with the help of the Junimoes.