Video games and environmental imaginaries of the Anthropocene - American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) 2023

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Kaitlin Moore
contact email: 

American Comparative Literature Association (ACLA) - Chicago, Illinois, March 16-19, 2023

Video games and environmental imaginaries of the Anthropocene

From cold, creeping survival in the Canadian tundra to neon-cathode dreams of a geoengineered utopia, from the weed-choked ruins of far distant future cities to the shattered landscapes caught under the shadow of nuclear annihilation, numerous video game titles across multiple platforms have in recent years contended with the political ecologies, environmental implications, and apocalyptic manifestations of the Anthropocene.

The Anthropocene describes a set of ubiquitous and interdisciplinary engagements that have departed their strictly chronostratigraphic origins and now refer, generally, to a “growing realisation that human activities [have]... fundamentally changed the Earth System” (Zalasiewicz et. al., 2019, 2). This seminar asks participants to consider the multifaceted and entangled Anthropocene theses from a heretofore critically understudied perspective in comparative literature and the environmental humanities: video games and other forms of interactive narratives, media, and entertainment as well as the human, industrial, ideological, and ecological contexts that enclose and produce them, and that they co-produce.

We will take up a series of discussions prompted by the Anthropocene and its counter-concepts (Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Cthulucene, et al.) to further explore the challenges of reading ecological crisis and culture in an era when it is no longer feasible to disarticulate human from so-called natural history, while considering the ways in which video games, in the words of ecocritical games scholar Alenda Y. Chang, “offer environments that are not stable, but shifting, that react to player input, and in the case of social worlds, that reflect the actions not of just one person but many, so that the game environment becomes a document of collective yet not necessarily cooperative processes” (Chang, 2011, 78). Our goal, ultimately, will be to identify and explore the ways in which video games, as objects of literary study, as well as their broader media ecologies, offer unique insights into the scientific, philosophical, and political stakes of the Anthropocene and their attendant comparative and interdisciplinary articulations. 

This seminar panel will be of interest to scholars of the environmental humanities, human geography, ecocriticism, environmental philosophy and politics, and/or media studies at any level of experience, as well as journalists, computer engineers, game designers, and video game enthusiasts in general.

Abstracts of 250-300 words should be submitted directly on the ACLA website by October 31, 2022: (direct link to this panel).

Submission Requirements

The submission deadline is October 31, 2022. All abstracts must be submitted through the ACLA seminar paper web site at Search for "Video games and environmental imaginaries of the Anthropocene." Current ACLA guidelines specify that each ACLA member may submit only ONE PAPER for consideration.

View the conference web site at