Radical Alternate Futurescoping: Solarpunk versus Grimdark


While designing social and political futures through an ’eco’ lens is becoming more popular with movements like solarpunk in the media, there are fewer studies of their use and potential in critical games for climate change education, communication and engagement. In this workshop, we plan to bring together people with diverse backgrounds to collaborate and co-create mock-ups of play experiences following solarpunk and grimdark themes. Solarpunk and grimdark are two extreme ends of the spectrum of alternate
climate futures. While solarpunk presents a hopeful technological utopia, grimdark uses a more nihilistic setting. The workshop will take its participants through a series of exercises enabling a critical, rebellious and radical approach to their design processes and conclude with a critical reflection session. We believe that it will be a novel opportunity to explore and investigate the potential of playful and rebellious eco-envisioning or ’ecopunk’, artefacts in terms of their aesthetics, rhetoric and emotions as they get created side by side.

Schedule and Details

Preliminary Schedule (Timings are in EEST i.e. UTC +3 and GMT +3)

Phase 1 – Introduction

  • 09.00 to 09:15. Arrival, introductions and sharing workshop agenda
  • 09:15 to 09:45. Introduction to speculative design, solarpunk and grimdark
  • 09:45 to 10:00. Group Formation and prompt distribution
  • 10:00 to 10:15. Coffee Break

Phase 2 – Conceptualisation

  • 10:15 to 11:00. Triadic Game Design Exercise [Harteveld. 2011]
  • 11:00 to 11:45. Brainstorming – Design Box method [Altizer et al. 2017]
  • 11:45 to 12:00. Sharing by groups (concept ideas, audiences and platforms)
  • 12:00 to 13:00. Lunch

Phase 3 – Mockup Jam

  • 13:00 to 14:00. Concept detailing using various tools
  • 14:00 to 15:15. Mock-up creation
  • 15:15 to 15:30. Coffee Break

Phase 4 – Critical Reflection and Discussion

  • 15:30 to 16:15. Group-wise mock-up showcase
  • 16:15 to 17:00. Critical reflection and discussion

Information and Games

What is Solarpunk?

Solarpunk is a literary, artistic and activist movement pursuing the dreams of a sustainable earth where humans and nature cohabit in a harmonious way. As the Solarpunk Manifesto [9] speculates a “post-scarcity, post-hierarchy, post-capitalistic” world that prioritises “environmental sustainability, self-governance and social justice”.

Solarpunk Games

Solarpunk Futures: https://thefuture.wtf/ 

Currently in development Spilled


Currently in development Synergy


Currently in development ReFresh


What is Grimdark?

Grimdark is a pervasively bleak, brutal and nihilistic setting, but the genre offers opportunities for an introspective kind of future envisioning. In “the grim dark future there is only war” [21];

Eco Themed Grimdark Games


Death Stranding (Arguably Hopepunk but on the grim side)

Grimdark Games


9] A. Flynn. 2014. Solarpunk: Notes toward a manifesto. ttps://hieroglyph.asu.edu/2014/09/solarpunk-notes-toward-a-manifesto/2014/09/solarpunknotes-

[1] Casper Harteveld. 2011. Triadic game design: balancing reality, meaning and play. Springer, London ; New York. OCLC: ocn502033376

[2] Roger Altizer, José P. Zagal, Erin Johnson, Bob Wong, Rebecca Anderson, Jeffery Botkin, and Erin Rothwell. 2017. Design Box Case Study: Facilitating Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Participatory Design in Game Development. In Extended Abstracts Publication of the Annual Symposium on Computer-Human Interaction in Play (CHI PLAY ’17 Extended Abstracts). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 405–412. https://doi.org/10.1145/3130859.3131333


Prasad Sandbhor at The University of York with iGGi

Sarah Masters at The University of York with iGGi


Link coming soon!