Five online eco-games

By , Blogger for The Christian Science Monitor

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    A screenshot from Food Force, a humanitarian game developed by the United Nations World Food Program.
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OK, so none of these is exactly Grand Theft Auto IV. In fact, most of these games are stuck somewhere between the Atari 2600 and the original Nintendo system. But they are pretty good for imparting a lesson or two about the environment, and for engaging in one of the most reliably green activities: slacking off.

ElectroCity This game, conceived by a New Zealand energy company (gas, coal, wind, and hydro), is a bit like SimCity. You're in charge of a small coastal city, and it's up to you to manage both the energy and the environment. You can cut down all your forests and build coal-fired power plants or power your city on wind and hydro. You can build farms, factories, and even an amusement park. Whatever you do, be sure to keep an eye on your budget and your citizens' levels of contentment.

Block That Pipe Greenpeace produced this game to highlight La Hague, a nuclear processing plant in France that the environmental group says is discharging radioactive waste into the ocean. In this Lunar Lander-style game, you pilot a submersible craft through underground caverns to pick up barrels of nuclear waste.

Recommended: 10 Timeless backyard games for warm weather fun

McDonald's Videogame In this parody of McDonald's, you are in charge of managing every aspect of the multinational burger purveyor's supply chain. Replace rainforests with cow pastures, buy hormones to fatten your cows, run PR and marketing campaigns, and buy off public officials. But watch out for antiglobalization protesters and disgruntled workers who spit in the food.

Food Force Climate change and deforestation have caused a famine on the fictional war-torn island of Sheylan. Deliver food through air drops and convoys, dodge landmines and other hazards, and help the Sheylanese develop self-sufficient agriculture. The game is published by the United Nations World Food Program.

The Climate Security Act This isn't so much a game as it is a diversion. Produced by Environmental Defense, this site features an energy industry lobbyist giving his spiel opposing the Lieberman-Warner Act. Click on the lie detector that he's hooked up to, and you'll deliver a mild electric shock, allowing you to "get the truth" (that is, Environmental Defense's spiel supporting the act).

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