Just one more level? Please?

As part of my quintessential geek armoury, I have always enjoyed relaxing and playing video games as both a hobby and a form of escapism. One of my earliest memories is turning on the family Commodore64 computer, pushing in the cassette tape and waiting for the TV to display Paperboy to my awe and excited glee but eventually begging for “just one more level”.

Fast forward 30 years and this same landscape has changed on a massive scale. From a niche hobby reserved for the most ardent supporters of the burgeoning form of entertainment, to the vast enterprise video games are today.

A little perspective is probably needed at this point so let’s look at some numbers:

Commodore Sales 1982 – 1994 (12 year period) 12 to 17 Million Units Sold
PlayStation 4 2013 – 2019 (6 year period) 100 Million Units Sold
Nintendo Switch Sales 2017 – 2019 (2 year period) 37 Million Units Sold

As these numbers display, things have changed in the video game hardware market but remember this is just the start. With countless software houses, developers and publishers also working in this intense, lucrative and highly creative industry we still don’t get the whole picture and the underlying technical structure of this industry. One thing that is for certain, there is a huge sustainability impact made.

The idea of big power draining machines, servers, consoles has been ever present but things are about to change and hopefully for the better. With a global reach of over 2 billion players, some of the largest players in the game have come to the table to form an alliance. To use a gaming ideology, they have formed a party, each with their own ideas, strength, abilities and functions to help fight climate change.

Playing for the planet is the outcome of this alliance. Companies such as Sony, Microsoft and Google have come together,  facilitated by the UN Environmental Programme (UNGP) to help combat climate change. Pooling their resources to not only change the way they work but also reach out to their respective player bases to change the way they think and with a reach of quarter of the world’s population, it’s almost unrivalled.

Some of the ideas and pledges the Alliance have made so far include:

  • Including a ‘Green Nudge’ in all video games to increase awareness of climate change
  • Fiscal incentives to developers for serious Sustainability games
  • Cutting e-waste and going 100% clean by implementing carbon reductions and circular economy principles

These are a few of the pledges that have been made with many more both made and incoming. The scope for change in the gaming industry is massive and thus far relatively untapped. Gaming has a reach larger than most social media, finances that rival or exceed most countries and some of the brightest minds working in technology today, there is a true and genuine ability to influence current gamers and new gamers alike.

Gaming can often be tailored towards the youth and young adults that then stay with them through their whole lives. Brand loyalty is massive amongst the gaming community and with the major forces in the marketplace such as Sony and Microsoft involved in the Alliance there is some serious brute force sitting behind this movement.

Games like Stardew Valley and Minecraft have gained public popularity but also both convey a very special message of finite resources, communities, society and the idea of coming together to solve and build something bigger than themselves. This translates to something that could… maybe… be quite spectacular.

Chris McDonald IT Systems Consultant at SustainIt Solutions