“New iOS app “Waking Mars” is a game about gardening, botany, and ecology, which sounds boring — especially if you’re about my age, and your primary school teachers tried to get you to learn about ecosystems via some clunky games with Oregon Trail-level graphics where you controlled the number of fish or ducks or some shit and then watched the population spiral out of control. That? That was boring. THIS IS RAD.
The concept: You’re an astronaut exploring caves under the surface of Mars. The caves are full of “zoa,” which are sort of plants and sort of creatures and sort of a really useful Scrabble word, and each type has particular defense systems, reproductive habits, and ways of interacting with other life forms. Some of them hurt you, some of them heal you — but more importantly, some of them kill and eat other zoa, and some make other zoa grow and flourish. So your underground gardening isn’t just increasing the amount of life on Mars; it’s also setting up self-sustaining, symbiotic ecological systems.”