Gaming Goes Green With Playing for the Planet

30 Sep 2019

Gaming Goes Green With Playing for the Planet

The recent UN Climate Action Summit saw multiple leading video game companies, such as Microsoft, Sony, Rovio, Supercell, Google Stadia, and Ubisoft, join the UN’s Playing for the Planet program. Playing for the Planet is part of the UN’s Youth and Education Alliance, which seeks to “integrate environmental education into university curricula around the world” and “influence campuses to engage in green initiatives”. In committing to this alliance, the companies will “harness the power of their platforms to take action in response to the climate crisis,” spreading awareness about climate issues and taking steps to reduce their own impact on the environment.

According to a press release from September 23rd by Dr. Trista Patterson, a member of the team that conducted a study for Playing for the Planet, the commitment made by the 21 members of the alliance “will result in a 30 million tonne reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, millions of trees planted, new ‘green nudges’ in game design, and improvements to energy management, packaging, and device recycling.” These commitments are already encouraging significant corporate change, “in some cases by a factor of 50 to 1.” The press release additionally lists the specific commitments made by the video game companies.

Several companies, for instance, are taking steps to directly reduce their environmental impact. Sony Interactive Entertainment has plans for more energy efficient technology, which includes a low power suspend mode for the next PlayStation. Microsoft will expand existing commitments to carbon neutrality made in 2012. It aims to lower its supply chain emissions by 30% by 2030 and will start a pilot program to certify 825,000 Xbox consoles as carbon neutral. Ubisoft will utilize eco-friendly factories, and Sports Interactive will switch all packaging for their Football Manager games from plastic to a recycled alternative. Mobile developers, like Supercell, Rovio, Sybo, and Space Ape, will offset the carbon footprints and energy usage of their games’ communities.

Other developers plan on developing environmentalist content for their games or seek to spread knowledge throughout the industry. Google Stadia and iDreamSky will examine introducing “green nudges” that encourage players to go green in games. Creative Mobile is giving ZooCraft a new focus on conservation, and Wild Works’ games will include “restoration elements”. Ubisoft is developing “green themes” for its games. Meanwhile, E-Line Media, Internet of Elephants, and Strange Loop will educate other developers on how to create high impact, environmentally oriented games.

There are commitments to engage players and communities as well. Niantic will urge their large player base to act on sustainability. Twitch will use their streaming platform to inform gamers about climate change. Microsoft, in addition to its previous commitments, will encourage players to be more sustainable through its Minecraft “Build a Better World” program.

Abacus3 is delighted to see 21 companies commit to Playing for the Planet and utilize gaming to make a big difference for the environment. As climate change awareness grows, these creative methods of “green gamification” will push gaming above and beyond the virtual sphere; everyone will be able to play for a cause and get educated on how to help the Earth. It will be interesting to see how gamers react to and support the initiative. Gamers are a huge, rapidly growing, loyal community, and if they can collectively jump on board to support Playing for the Planet, it can result in a groundswell unlike anything we’ve seen in a long time.