Climate initiatives from the games industry
German games companies have already implemented many of the measures previously mentioned in order to become more sustainable and do their part in protecting the environment. Even the content of the games themselves increasingly relates to environmental protection. A number of projects, such as gamescom forest or DOOM WOOD, involve planting trees to improve sustainability, for instance. Here are some other examples of these types of game content, in-game campaigns and events:
Game publisher Assemble Entertainment and developer Gentlymad Studios came up with a campaign to fit the theme of their survival city-building game ‘Endzone – A World Apart’. The goal of the game is to rebuild civilisation after a nuclear catastrophe.
The two companies hope to help the planet by supporting reforestation with their ‘Save the World Edition’ of the game. They partnered with the charity organisation One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every copy of the edition sold on Steam, and for wishlists and pre-orders. As of May 2021, this campaign has resulted in 50,000 trees being planted around the world.
For ‘The Sims 4’, Electronic Arts developed an expansion pack with a focus on the environment and sustainability. ‘The Sims 4: Eco Lifestyle’ was released in 2020 and confronts players with the environmental consequences of their actions. By recycling ‘trash’, using renewable energies and cooperating with other residents, players can return Evergreen Harbor – sadly destroyed by pollution – to its former beauty.
As part of the mobile simulation game ‘Big Farm’, Goodgame Studios organised a series of in-game events on the topic of environmental protection. The largest initiative so far was ‘Plant a Tree’ (January to February 2020); with help from the community, ten thousand trees were planted in the Amazon rainforest to aid in reforestation efforts after the latest spate of forest fires. Players had to achieve certain in-game goals in order for trees to be planted. The studio also organised a large-scale TV ad campaign in the German-speaking world during the first quarter of 2020. Previous charity events supported the clean-up of the oceans in cooperation with the non-profit organisation Healthy Seas and the continued survival of wild bees in cooperation with the Deutsche Wildtier Stiftung (German Wild Animal Foundation).
In 2019, the SAE Institute entered into a partnership with the WWF to provide long-term support for the organisation. The media campus committed to donating one per cent of its annual profits from Austria, Germany and Switzerland to climate and environmental protection projects. The Institute also launched a one-week, cross-regional game jam at all 11 SAE locations in support of the nature conservation project ‘Mittlere Elbe’. The aim was to find creative game ideas or other digital solutions to make nature more tangible for people and to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity without disrupting the sensitive local ecosystem.
Strange Loop Games has made the issue of environmental protection the focus of its game ‘Eco’. Eco is an online multiplayer survival game in which a community of players has to construct an entire ecosystem. Every decision has an impact on this ecosystem. A disruption in one species can trigger a butterfly effect on the entire planet. If you cut down trees, for example, you destroy the habitat of certain animals. All data generated through interactions with plants, animals, the climate and other players can be assessed and analysed using diagrams and heat maps in the game. The objective is to draft laws based on this scientific information to prevent the world from being destroyed.
With the Playing for the Planet Alliance, launched in 2019, the international games industry is taking a clear stand. This partnership between the United Nations and the Games Industry sees its members committing to reducing emissions and supporting the global environmental agenda; the success of the measures is tracked in regular surveys.
Playing for the Planet has four primary goals:
- Reducing emissions within the games industry
- Raising awareness of environmental issues among video game players by addressing them directly in games
- Promoting the exchange of expertise between members and other games industry stakeholders
- Exploring new strategies for the future of games
To that end, Playing for the Planet is implementing activities such as the annual Green Game Jam, which celebrated its debut in 2020.
Interested companies are always welcome – new members are being accepted all the time. game has been part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance since mid-June 2021.
- In addition to game content, climate protection projects and the Playing for the Planet Alliance, there is also the European Games Consoles Voluntary Agreement (GCVA). This is an agreement between console manufacturers Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft and Nintendo; the objective is to make gaming consoles as energy-efficient as possible.
The agreement was officially recognised by the European Commission in 2015. The central points of the agreement are as follows:
- Implementing automatic shut-off for consoles after approximately one hour of inactivity
- Implementing a maximum energy limit
- Transparency regarding the energy consumption of consoles
- Committing to improve the recyclability of consoles
- Improving the maximum service life of consoles by providing players with comprehensive instructions for use
The agreement has already contributed to saving a great deal of energy. For instance, the initiative reports that in the year 2020 alone, it saved approximately 7 terawatt hours of electricity for the Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro games consoles.