Playing 4 the Planet

What the gaming industry is doing to help tackle climate change


As the planet continues to get warmer, we as its denizens have an ever increasing responsibility to take action and help in any way we can. Our industries are a major contributor to humanity’s share of carbon emissions, naturally an industry as new and fast-growing as the gaming industry is responsible for a fair portion of this right?

In this article we’ll be examining the impact that the video game industry has on the environment as well as what measures are being taken by the industry to help tackle climate change.

Games impact on environment

A study in the US from 2019 showed that the aggregate energy consumption of gaming-based tech cost 5 billion dollars and produced 24 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions which is equivalent to 85 million refrigerators, which sounds bad until you consider the rest of the statistics, there have been over 500 million games consoles sold in the US and that isn't taking into account mobile gaming or PC gaming. So in actuality your refrigerator is producing at least 6 times more carbon emissions than your gaming habits. Other similarly biased reports indicate that gaming in the state of California uses as much energy as a whole country, again shocking until you consider that the countries they are comparing this data to have limited access to energy, Senegal for example, where 30% of the country has no access to energy. This data becomes even more clearly skewed when you consider the state of California has a population of nearly 40 million and Senegal has a population of a little over 16 million.

Despite the gaming industry becoming something of a scapegoat for climate change, it is still working hard to use its influence and reach to effect a change for the better. As of 2022 3 billion people worldwide play video games, this gives it more influence than almost every other entertainment industry. 

Introduction of PftP

In 2019 during the Climate Summit in New York, the Playing for the Planet Alliance was launched. The alliance consists of some of the leading bodies in the industry as well as a plethora of smaller companies with the goal of helping to raise awareness of environmental change. Many of the alliance members have pledged to be carbon net zero or negative by 2030 and in-game donations have helped raise money for environmental protection.  

Measures being taken

In 2021 the alliance helped raise $800,000 through in-game charity donations. In terms of research and development, Sony, Microsoft and Unity have conducted research in regard to the decarbonization of the gaming industry and Unity, Ubisoft and Microsoft are conducting research into their player base’s behaviors and attitudes toward climate change. Ukie released the Green Game Guide to help give companies advice on how to reduce emissions and waste across the industry. 

The Green Game Jam engaged 130 million gamers and tripled in size last year, with 30 new studios joining and helping with reforestation efforts, accounting for 266,000 trees being planted. 

How gamers can help

Many games now offer green activations which allow you to donate in-game to environmental charities, other games offer eco incentives such as PokemonGO getting people to clean up their environment and post their efforts with a hashtag on social media in order to gain in-game rewards. But the biggest thing that you can do as a gamer is spread awareness to your friends and guildmates about the threat that climate change poses and check out Playing 4 the Planet yourself here: https://playing4theplanet.org 

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