Twenty-one video game industry giants are showing that even if the government won’t commit to fighting climate change, companies will. It’s called the Playing for the Planet Alliance, and with so many companies involved, it could make a big difference. The companies behind PlayStation, Xbox, Minecraft, Twitch, and many more gaming services pledged Monday at the United Nations Climate Action Summit to use their platforms to address the climate crisis.
Microsoft, Sony, and 19 others will be making changes to help the environment while aiming to get their millions of players involved, too. So what plans are in the works?
- WildWorks will be teaching kids about habitat restoration through their game Animal Jam — and planting a tree for every new Animal Jam player.
- Microsoft plans to make 825,000 new carbon-neutral Xbox consoles and promote sustainable activities through its game Minecraft, which has almost three million players.
- Top streaming platform Twitch, owned by Amazon, promises to spread sustainability messages through its platform.
- Rovio Entertainment, maker of Angry Birds, will be offsetting carbon emissions by charging one mobile device per day for a year.
- Google’s upcoming stream service, Stadia, is financing research on ways to change people’s behavior through video games.
In March 2019, the report “Playing for the Planet: How Video Games Can Deliver for People and the Environment” was released. This commitment is a follow-up to that report, and now, companies are putting its research into action. Some will be planting trees, reducing plastic packaging, making gaming devices more energy-efficient and using games as platforms for environmental education.
Though many parents and child psychologists are wary of video games for kids, gaming company leaders emphasize they’re working towards using games for good. Many believe their products are a perfect way to help players learn and care more about serious issues like climate change.
“We believe that careful stewardship of natural resources is of utmost importance,” Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), said in a recent statement on the PlayStation blog. He estimates SIE has already avoided emitting almost 16 million metric tons through its sustainability technologies.
Ryan also announced the next-generation PlayStation console in the post, a device that will have much lower power consumption. Ryan says “if just one million users enable this feature, it would save equivalent to the average electricity use of 1,000 US homes.”
“The gaming community is diverse and growing at a fast pace,” Ryan said. “There is an undeniable opportunity for leaders in the games industry to take a stand and support the UN Environment team by communicating the importance of preserving natural resources for generations to come.”
“I believe games and gamers can be a force for social change and would love to see our global community unite to help our planet to survive and thrive,” Ryan said at the UN Summit.
PlayStation and 20 other companies are committed to changing the climate through education and new technology. This industry has so much power and such a large fanbase, it could make a serious difference in the climate crisis.