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The United Nations’ Playing for the Planet annual report shows that games studios are getting serious about supporting climate change causes.
More than 32 games studios have now joined the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)-facilitated Playing for the Planet Alliance.
Those studios have enabled the planting of over one million trees and they have engaged 130 million gamers on themes relating to the environment, according to the alliance’s just-released annual impact report.
The report showcases the progress the industry has made on decarbonization and green activations in games, and where it may go next. According to the report, in 2021, The Green Game Jam – which brings together the biggest names in video games across PC, mobile, and console to educate and empower millions of players to act for nature – tripled in size, with 30 studios joining.
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That led to 266,000 trees being planted, $800,000 being raised, and engaging some 130 million players on ocean and forest issues in support of UNREDD and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, with 80% of them responding positively to these themes.
In addition, 60% of Playing for the Planet members have committed to being net-zero/carbon negative by 2030 with further work on targets set for 2022.
Seven new game studios joined in 2021, taking the alliance to 32 members with a combined gamer base of well over a billion, and a new Young Green Game Jam was launched with the support of TiMistudios, supported by students from over 300 Universities.
“The video gaming industry is a new ally in the race for a net-zero and nature-positive planet,” said Sam Barratt, chief of youth, education, and advocacy at UNEP, in a statement. “The work that the Playing for the Planet Alliance undertook in 2021 is impressive and shows what is possible when the tools of collaboration replace the mindset of competition. While a lot remains to be done, the initiative has come a long way in just two years.”
In addition to the progress inside the alliance, the work has inspired major labels in the music industry to launch its own Music Climate Pact in December 2021 and also saw new baseline data on the power consumption of the amount of energy that mobile devices use in gameplay, updating numbers from 10 years ago so that studios can more accurately calculate their carbon footprint.
The report also outlines the direction the alliance plans to take in 2022, which will see a new white paper outlining guidance for the industry on how to reduce their emissions. The theme for the Green Game Jam in 2022 will be on Forests, Food, and the Future; the jam aims to surpass the number of previous participants and increase the reach and impact of the initiative – already, over 36 studios have signed up, with more set to join in the coming weeks. A new secretariat will also be created to host the initiative.
The annual impact report is primarily designed as an accountability mechanism on transparency and progress; members who are not meeting their commitments are removed from the alliance.