There are video games that teach math, baking, and even recycling. Now, video game developers are focusing on content that draws attention to climate change and environmental protection. Hope is to give hope. The goal is to inspire action through a better understanding of the challenges facing our planet. When considering the irrefutable popularity of video games, content that educates and sparks passion for a cause has the potential to tap into a huge market within the gaming population.
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Play for the Planet Alliance
Inspired by the preparations for the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, the organizers have launched Playing for the Planet Alliance. It’s an agreement between more than 40 game design studios who have pledged to use their gaming platforms to educate and encourage gamers to join the fight against climate change by signing pledges and making donations to environmental campaigns. The UN-backed alliance has resulted in player actions, including more than 60,000 signed pledges for UN campaigns and $800,000 in donations to various charities. Many notable names in the gaming industry are part of the alliance, with the number of members having doubled in less than a year. Here are some examples of how the industry is integrating climate change information and calls to action into the game.
Related: Check Out This Sustainably Made 2-in-1 Wooden Board Game
This long-time popular game lets you build a city of the future. The developers have included a measurable impact on the decisions you make as you go. Will you end up with a city full of pollution or a city that thrives on investments in renewable resources?
The ultra-popular game has stepped up the sustainability initiative with a new Pokemon only available during Sustainability Week in April.
The game consists of building a paper town by solving puzzles. Along the way, players learn about renewable energy sources and self-sufficiency.
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure
The premise is a female lead who fights against building a resort on a scenic island. Alba teaches players about conservation and the harmful aspects of building on animals and the environment. A portion of the profits are donated to tree planting initiatives.
If anyone knows a video game, it’s probably Angry Birds. The developers have participated in the eco-discussion with in-game activities that raise awareness about deforestation. They felt it naturally complemented the theme of the game by showing the impact on wildlife.
Mission Mobile Game 1.5
This smartphone game educates players about climate change, providing visual feedback on in-game decisions that will help the world reduce the rate of global warming. The game also encourages players to vote in a poll, which has become the largest database of public opinion on climate change action ever conducted.
You guessed it by the name. This game challenges players to make decisions about plastic waste and recycling, with dire consequences for a plastic-filled planet if the player fails to make conscious choices about what waste they dispose of. .
Another hugely popular computer game, Minecraft, had a “Radical Recycling” educational component that resulted in a $100,000 donation to The Nature Conservancy.
The classic Civilization game moves to the classroom. With an interactive civilization build, students play in conjunction with teacher-guided lessons and discussions about climate change.
beyond the blue
This voyage takes the player below the surface of the ocean as the leader of a research team discovering the impacts of human activities on marine animals. Save the ocean habitat in this immersive underwater experience.
Winner of Jam’s UNEP’s Choice Award for 2021, Anno 1800 challenges the player to build a sustainable city on an ecologically sensitive island. Wrong choices regarding overfishing or deforestation cause the city to collapse, while wise choices regarding population growth and material selections allow the city to thrive.
Antarctic ice sheet monitoring has never been so much fun. Kids of all ages learn the best tactics for holding ice so penguins can reach their destination.
Off-screen industry carbon reduction
The power of providing information and requesting action through video game consoles is undeniable. Organizers of the Playing for the Planet Alliance recognize that they have the potential to reach a significant number of the estimated three billion people worldwide who regularly play some form of video game on a phone, gaming system, tablet or computer. But the commitment to change goes beyond the actions taken by the players. In fact, 60% of alliance members have committed to achieving net zero or negative carbon status by 2030.
Companies invest the necessary resources to measure the impact on the industry. Gaming giant Microsoft has identified the power consumption in watt-hours that mobile devices use while playing 30 minutes of video games. Similarly, Sony has designed a carbon footprint tool to describe the carbon impacts of the gaming industry. They also improved the power efficiency of PlayStation four and five gaming systems. Other companies have taken a critical look at the environmental impact of company travel, internal waste and energy consumption and reducing the amount of plastics used in industry.
Through the United Nations, OneGreenPlanet
Images via Pexels