Escapism: it's only natural
Fantasy and Science Fiction were the main two genres that used to offer us a way to escape reality. But lately a new theme has emerged and taken over the recreational realm. Now that nature has gone from the Earth and our environment has been ruined, they've entered the domain of dreams and longing.
You can't enter a bloody board game store these days without stumbling over piles of recycled trees selling "nature". As if gawking at weird animals is suddenly below us, in Ark Nova we pretend that zoos ultimately exist for the preservation of species - go score conservation points and feel good. In Earth you create a fictional ecosystem, the world as it could have been, if it had not been for, well, us. In Cascadia the city dwellers of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver can happily lay tiles picturing their surroundings that are being swallowed up by their asphalt jungles. In Endangered we take our troubles to the United Nations, as if they could - or would - change anything that's going on.
Most of these games are beautifully illustrated and fit so well into our modern lives where we can't experience anything for real anymore. We are condemned to get our fixes from screens and cardboard. A game like PARKS capitalizes on this transition to the fantasy sphere. First we put fences around a few last spots of green so we could visit them with our SUVs and mobile homes, then we made posters for souvenirs, then we made a game that subsituted these posters for the parks... Now we can collect those souvenirs without ever leaving our house and never have to see nature anymore. Woo-hoo!
Let's play Meadow. Let's play Wingspan. Let's play A Gentle Rain. And dream our pretty dream.
Of course grey dwarves and dwarf stars aren't for everyone, so in a way we should be grateful for this development. It will attract new people to the hobby. And most importantly: nature's never really gone this way. In our plays it will live on.