By Situation Theatre 16/8/2018
To complete the level, you’ll need to assign skills like community organiser, union leader, and climate protester to safely guide the lemmings from the capitalist entrance to the ecofeminist exit.
Video game developers have leapt on a wave of news stories about the dangers of ‘Hothouse Earth’ following the release of a paper called Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. Within days of the article's publication they’d developed and released Lemmings: Hothouse Earth and sales of the new socialist video game are already outpacing the rate of global warming.
Fans of the original Lemmings will remember the goal was to ensure safe passage of cute little blue and green creatures by designating one of eight skills to the different lemmings. Unless otherwise instructed the little dudes would march to their deaths by falling off cliffs or getting caught in a trap or fire.
Assigning roles like ‘climber’, ‘floater’, ‘bomber’, ‘blocker’ and ‘digger’ helped navigate the lemmings through the environment to save as many of them as possible.
In the updated version you can transition the lemmings from the capitalist entrance to the post-capitalist exit by choosing between eight different kinds of activist skills: organiser, civil disobedience co-ordinator, campaigner, union leader, protester, journalist, filmmaker, or educator.
Asked about the inspiration for the game, the creator Vandana Shiva credited Naomi Klein, who recently wrote:
"...a new form of democratic eco-socialism, with the humility to learn from Indigenous teachings about the duties to future generations and the interconnection of all of life, appears to be humanity’s best shot at collective survival."
The New York Times has released their own version of the game called Lemmings: How Human Nature Will Kill Us All. Sadly in this version you can’t assign any skills to the lemmings and they always all march off the cliff to their deaths.
By contrast, game developers of Lemmings: Hothouse Earth hope the public’s obvious receptivity to anti-capitalist, ecosocialist, and ecofeminist messaging combined with their passion for saving the lives of virtual beings will translate into energy for actions like this one.