National Video Game Day Strikes Back! – WithersRavenel

National Video Game Day Strikes Back!

A National Video Game Day banner inspired by the level artwork from the orginal Donkey Kong game

National Video Game Day Strikes Back!

According to its original sponsor David Earle, National Video Game Day is a day for “kids of all ages who enjoy videogames to celebrate the fun they have while playing them.”

National Video Game Day falls on July 8 each year. It has a sister holiday, National Video Games Day, which is observed on September 12.

In 2020, we highlighted how video games teach many of the problem-solving and planning skills foundational to civil engineering and landscape architecture. In 2021, we showcased video games that explore or nurture our six core values of collaboration, quality, sustainability, integrity, respect, and community.

In honor of National Video Game Day 2022 and Parks & Recreation Month, we’ve compiled a list of games that represent our ten engineering, planning, and surveying disciplines. It’s our most ambitious list by far—let’s go!

Economic Development

  • Factorio – As the name suggests, Factorio is about building factories. But that’s just the beginning: you’re really looking to build sophisticated economic engines. Target resources, research technology, build infrastructure, and automate production in this game of increasingly complex and towering machine empires.
  • Satisfactory – Like Factorio, Satisfactory is a factory-building simulation. But whereas the former game is a top-down 2D experience, the latter is first-person 3D game that puts you in the heart of the economic action. Build up as well as out, positioning your factories in dynamic terrain, and explore the wider world to discover the components of new efficiency technologies.

Environmental

  • Eco – Eco is about creating a civilization on a virtual planet with an emphasis on balancing resource collection and technological advancement against environmental impacts. Develop trade, create currencies, form governments, and enact laws, but don’t lose sight of living sustainably, otherwise your society will face consequences like species extinction, air pollution, and even total collapse.
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker – Turn the refuse of humanity’s past into the resources of its future. In Hardspace: Shipbreaker, players enter zero G to salvage derelict space ships, breaking them down into their component parts. Salvagers have to contend with hazards like leaking fuel, arcing electricity, and radiation, not unlike how environmental crews handle contaminated job sites on earth.

Funding & Asset Management

  • Turmoil – Inspired by the 19th century North American oil rush, Turmoil invites players to live the rise of a successful oil entrepreneur. Lease land, build a rig, create an efficient pipe network, and sell your spoils at peak times to maximize profits. Then use those earnings to reinvest in your business, making deals and outbidding your rivals at auction as you campaign to become mayor of the town that rises around you.
  • Football Manager – Football Manager takes the honor of being the first sports title in three years of roundups, but there’s a reason it’s here and not in the Parks & Recreation section below. This management game focuses on the business side of owning a winning soccer team, from recruiting and player development to choosing field tactics that develop your team’s brand. Your budget is finite, and the fans are watching—how will you drive your team to success?

Parks & Recreation

  • Planet Zoo – Build a simulated world for wildlife, and then welcome the public to see and learn about the animals you’ve nurtured. Planet Zoo allows players to create unique habitats, pursue groundbreaking research, and develop breathtaking exhibits that delight zoo visitors in a world where animal welfare and conservation come first.
  • Fall Guys – Fall Guys is a hilarious free-for-all competition made up of races, obstacle courses, goal-scoring games, and last-one-standing challenges. Each round sees the players’ wobbly bean-shaped avatars competing against each other (and gravity) in bright, bouncy environments that put their manual dexterity to the test.

Planning & Landscape Architecture

  • Stardew Valley – Equipped with simple tools and a little bit of money, players have the opportunity to transform the overgrown fields of their grandfather’s old farm plot into tidy gardens and orchards. To excel at farming and animal husbandry, they need to be mindful of the seasons and the space required for planting their crops and housing their livestock—precisely the kind of skills that serve landscape architects in their daily work.
  • Plants vs. Zombies – Zombies are invading your backyard, and your only defense is an arsenal of plants! In this humorous tower defense game, you set up zombie-zapping plants and manage sunlight to stop the undead in their tracks.

Surveying & Geomatics

  • The Long Dark – After surviving a plane crash in the wintry Canadian wilderness, you’re stranded and alone—and lost. With nothing but the clothes on your back and an empty can, it will be no mean feat to scavenge for food and water, dodge dangerous animals, and avoid freezing to death. Resources are rare and precious, so The Long Dark throws you a bone by allowing you to map where you’ve been in the event you live long enough to return.
  • No Man’s Sky – The galaxy is a living, breathing place in this expansive exploration and adventure game. Players travel between the stars to discover unique planets and lifeforms, and because all players exist in the same universe, they can choose to share their discoveries on a communal map of known space.

Land & Site Development

  • Minecraft – In this cube-based environment, players gather natural resources, craft tools, and construct buildings to explore and settle the wider world. Use a toybox full of materials to create elaborate structures and sprawling cities from your favorite story or your own imagination.
  • Civilization VI – It’s urban planning with a historical twist. Pick an ancient civilization and one of its historical leaders, then set out to explore, build, research, negotiate, and conquer. Watch your empire expand across the map as you take advantage of local terrain, build specialty districts, and create capitals of industry and learning.

Stormwater

  • 112 Operator + Water Operations – As a 112 operator, you manage emergency services for any city in the world. Take calls and dispatch first responders to tackle situations like natural disasters. With the Water Operations add-on, players tackle stormwater-related emergencies like tsunamis and floods.
  • Don’t Starve – An uncompromising wilderness survival game full of science and magic might not sound like it has anything to do with stormwater engineering, but players ignore the connection at their own peril. In Don’t Starve, each season brings fresh challenges, and in spring players have to contend with torrential rain that douses fires, collapses rabbit warrens, and decreases sanity. Also, sometimes the rain is made of killer frogs.

Transportation

  • Please Fix the Road – Armed with a limited set of tools, players must repair roads, tracks, and trails to get cars, boats, trains, and even animals from their origin to destination. The normally onerous task of road maintenance is turned into a casual and minimalist puzzle game with charmingly colorful backdrops and adorable pink llamas.
  • Mini Metro & Mini Motorways – These mobile-exclusives are a mix of minimalist simulation and strategy game. Metro asks players to draw subway lines between stations in a growing city, while Motorways puts a city’s car traffic challenges in the player’s hands. Eventual failure is inevitable—the question is, how long can you keep the city running?
  • Poly Bridge & Poly Bridge 2 – In this physics-based puzzle game, players use a variety of materials and bridge types to move different vehicles over gaps and avoid hazards. Learn the basics of forces, structural design, and budget management without any pesky concerns like car launches and collapsed bridges.

Water & Sewer Utilities

  • Cities: Skylines – As the mayor of a city being built from the ground up, you’re in charge of designing the infrastructure to deliver essential services like water and sewer. It’s a stylized but not unrealistic look at the frequently interlocking challenges that engineers and planners face every day while developing civil projects.
  • Oxygen Not Included – A city simulation game with a survivalist twist, Oxygen Not Included takes place in subterranean space colony where lack of oxygen, warmth, and food are a constant threat. Finding and distributing water and then dealing with the resulting wastewater are core challenges in this unrelenting struggle to balance a workable solution now against the consequences later.

We believe play and games are a powerful avenue for understanding the world and our place in it. Have video games helped you understand how something works or where you fit in? Share your story with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.