‘Earth: A Primer’ is an App, Game, Textbook, and Art Project


I never really thought I’d end up playing a video game about geophysics.

Well, it’s sort of a video game. It’s also kind of a textbook you can poke and prod at on an iPad, with whimsical sound effects that make the feeling of playing god that much more bizarre. The whole thing is strangely hypnotic: I can raise a mountain on a plain with my index finger, and watch the wind carry cotton puffs of cloud from the seashore while trees rise and fall like blades of grass. When I drag my finger over the mountain, it snows. A groaning cap of glacier rises up and begins to grind its way down the slope like too much frosting — until I increase the temperature a couple of degrees, and the glacier vaporizes with a loud creak.

Then I shrug and turn the page.

Read the rest of the review on Grist and download Earth: A Primer from the app store.

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