The games industry continues to add its voice to the fight against climate change. With a combined audience of 970 million players, that voice is a loud one. The UN Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit, taking place today in New York, is the site where many industry giants pledged their commitment to help raise awareness. The UN's site states that 21 companies have committed, the overall effect of which will be a "30 million tonne reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030" and "millions of trees planted," along with "new 'green nudges' in game design and improvements to energy management, packaging, and device recycling". These commitmments come under the banner of the Playing for the Planet alliance, an initiative which analyses how the video games industry and its players can positively impact the climate through processes such as raising awareness.
The 21 companies which have made commitments include: Creative Mobile, E-Line Media, Google Stadia, Green Man Gaming, iDreamSky, Internet of Elephants, Microsoft, Niantic Inc, Pixelberry, Reliance Games, Rovio, Space Ape, Sports Interactive, Supercell, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Strange Loop, Sybo, Twitch, Ubisoft, WildWorks and Playmob.
Phil Spencer, executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft, added his voice to the throng. “Climate change is impacting each industry and every sector, and we believe technology can play a critical role in enabling and empowering the response to this challenge...Initiatives like our Minecraft Build a Better World Campaign and CarbonNeutral Xbox pilot provide a great opportunity to tap into Microsoft’s technology sustainability and gaming community to make a difference in this key area of our business.” Microsoft "will announce the expansion of its existing operational commitment to carbon neutrality, established in 2012, into its devices and gaming work. It will set a new target to reduce its supply chain emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 – including end-of-life for devices – and to certify 825,000 Xbox consoles as carbon neutral in a pilot programme. In addition, Microsoft will engage gamers in sustainability efforts in real life through the Minecraft its ‘Build a Better World’ initiative, which has seen players take more than 20 million in-game actions."
Sony, meanwhile, " will unveil new progress and plans to utilize energy efficient technology (on-track to avoid 29 million tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030), to introduce low power suspend mode for next generation PlayStation, to assess and report their carbon footprint and to educate and inspire the gaming community to take action on climate change." Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony, stated that “At PlayStation, we believe games have the power to ignite social change through educating people, evoking emotions, and inspiring hope. We could not be prouder to be part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance and we look forward to seeing what the industry can achieve together.”
Ubisoft "will develop in-game green themes and will source materials from eco-friendly factories", Twitch "have committed to utilizing their platform to spread this message to the global gaming community", WildWorks "will integrate restoration elements in games, and, like" Green Man Gaming "they will focus on restoring some of the world’s forests with major tree-planting initiatives". You can read the full description of each companies' committment here.
The games industry continues to grow, with more ambitious games planned for release than ever. It's heartening to see genuine promises of contributions to the UN's efforts, especially as they're made before the release of next generation consoles, where these changes and efforts will have the biggest impact. Overall, it sounds as though we can look forward to more environmentally-aware games, whether they're raising awareness and including restoration elements in-game, or coming from companies which are taking action outside their games by planting trees or sourcing eco-friendly materials.
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