It is estimated that over three billion of the global population play video games around the world on either consoles, PCs, or mobile phones. With the gaming industry reaching one in three people, it stands as one of the most influential sectors. The fact that it has proven time and again of its ability to influence behaviour at a significant scale makes it more powerful in this respect. The games’ influence usually defies stereotypes of gender, age, and even one’s location. Even in the gambling industry most of the popular games became available for gamers in different countries, such as More Chilli pokies in Australia, Solar Disc slot in Canada or Cleopatra in Singapore.
Such widespread accessibility of video games makes it an ideal platform to boost awareness about the environmental crises that threaten to cripple life on earth if action is not taken. Major organizations like the UN Environmental Programme have conducted studies on how the sector can help boost environmental protection, and here are some of the approaches that are in place:
Create Awareness about Environmental Decline and the Actions to Take
Video games are quickly cementing themselves as the modernized, digital classroom. Game developers have begun considering their products as sustainable education platforms that gear players towards being environmentally minded in the game. That way, they instil good behaviours that can be applied in the real world.
UNEP launched a study in March dubbed Playing for the Planet, which focused on exploring different in-game measures that can be used to educate players on the environment. More than 80% of the major gaming companies around the world have since shown outstanding commitment to the forum, some of which have already taken action. Some of these ventures include:
PokÃ©mon Go – This is arguably the most popular augmented reality game. The set tasks players with walking around in the real world as they collect little virtual monsters. Players can also collect in-game rewards for participating in Earth Day clean-ups.
United for Wildlife – This game is a product of RuneScape, and it is an online roleplaying set with a massive multiplayer community. In the set, players are given a pet who answers questions about global rhino conservation. The rhino is currently one of the critically endangered species with scientists and wildlife specialists fighting to keep them alive.
Eco – This is a game that is based on environmental consciousness and how our actions affect the ecosystems. It also provides suggestions on how the players can help in their own little way.
Choices – even though this game is often advertised as with a romantic front, it can also take an environmental sustainability turn. In the game, pundits can step into the shoes of Harriet, who is a young girl heading back home to solve the crisis of a massive fish die-off.
Rally Campaigns That Focus on Sustainability Programs
The corporations behind the development of games can go the extra mile and donate some of the revenue generated from sales to conservation programs. If the industry leaders put in the effort to highlight environmental-related issues and how to solve them, awareness is likely to be seen as a more critical issue. Such moves can also serve as a win for them since it is expected to encourage the participation of players in particular game titles. Some companies have gone as far as to incorporate environmental-related themes and reminders in their games.
One such example is the Subway Surfers, which is part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance programme. The set has more than three billion downloads and includes a theme that encourages players to safeguard the planet. It does so while maintaining its fun surfing adventures that make it popular in the first place. The green nudge helps players keep up with personal commitments, such as taking a bike to work rather than driving. Also, it encourages one to skip meat on some days, since the mass production of beef and other animal products prove harmful to the environment.
Contribute Money to Environment Conservation Programs
The gaming industry churns in more money than the music and film industries combined. With billions in revenue being made every year, the sector can easily set aside a significant amount of cash to aid in conservation programs. In some cases, the contributed funds do not have to come from the players’ pockets. Instead, they can be from a portion of the sales that have already been made.
Reduce E-Waste and Turn to Clean Energy
The task of reducing energy waste falls on the shoulders of not only players but also the companies behind the provision of gaming services. The video games industry leaves one of the most significant environmental footprints that generates about fifty million tonnes of electronic waste every year. If it continues on the same course, this figure is estimated to balloon to 120 million tonnes by 2050.
With such a significant threat to our planet that is only bound to get worse, many companies have committed to offsetting practices that contribute to waste production. For instance, the mobile gaming company Supercell has pledged to go carbon neutral to offset the carbon dioxide produced by gamers engaging in their sets. Sony is also working in partnership with the Playing for the Planet Alliance to educate console makers on the changes they can make for the better. These measures are aimed at creating a carbon calculator to be used by developers to absorb harmful emissions and encourage the restoration of forest landscapes.
Use Incentives as Promotional Tools to Educate Gamers
Governments can also step in to help send the message of environmental awareness by offering tax breaks and subsidies. Such incentives are likely to push more companies to create games that are as much entertaining as they are educational on the measures that need to be taken to sustain a clean and healthy planet.
For instance, the United States government helped to build Eco, which is among the most educative games out there on the issues that ecosystems are facing and how they can be solved. In the game, players are required to build a virtual civilization and create a balance on how resources are used to ensure the ecosystem remains balanced. The set is termed as a serious game because the measures that can be applied in the virtual world are also applicable in the real world.
In-game Purchases for Proceeds
In-game purchases are nothing new in the gaming world, which makes it easy to incorporate for the sake of saving the planet. Players can pay to progress through levels or collect and upgrade features that are specific to the planet-saving course. The purchases can be made even more lucrative by being useful in the virtual world.
Involve Parents in the Cause
Gaming has often been associated with the young generations, but to save the planet, parents have to be involved as well. It is easy to keep kids connected with real nature when the grownups learn from the digital world the right decisions to make that have an impact. Even parents have a lot to learn from the games and can also have fun playing with their kids both indoors and outdoors.
As much as video games serve as a channel to educate gamers on how to save the planet, the communicated messages must be applied in the real world. Foster a relationship with nature by bringing the green on the screen to the real world.