In 2015, the world came together in Paris at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21), and signed a legally binding treaty to not let the temperature of the planet increase more than 1.5 degrees. An increase in temperature more than this is sure to lead to a global disaster, scientists warned.

Fast forward to 2024, and sadly the climate action plans out there are insufficient and the world is off track to meet this goal. While it is not too late to make a difference, everyone can and must play a part, including those in the games industry.

The gaming industry is contributing to the climate crisis in its own way — one report estimated that the industry created between 3 million and 15 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 alone to create video games, putting it on par with the film industry.

For that very reason, the Playing for the Planet Alliance was launched in 2019 at the United Nations Climate Summit with 21 CEOs from the games industry and 1 goal: to reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Members of the Alliance, including Microsoft, Google, Supercell, and Ubisoft, have made commitments ranging from reducing their carbon footprint to implementing green activations in their games. 

Where these larger organizations can contribute significantly by reducing their carbon footprint, any game developer regardless of their size can make a difference through their games. 

Today, roughly 3.4 billion people play games and every generation out there is engaging with games. For that reason, games can be a great way to teach people about climate change and the environment. 

“At Playing for the Planet, we bring the games industry together. We work with a spirit of collaboration, not competition, and make use of our super powers. Every industry has a super power and for the games industry this is a combination of reach, creativity, and the ability to build strong and engaged communities,” said Lisa Pak. “Through the implementation of green activations in games we encourage studios to teach people about environmental themes through their games. These green activations can be anything ranging from a time limited event, to a new world, to a marketing campaign with an environmental message.”

Global Citizen and Flutter, a Google app development company, in partnership with Playing for the Planet, are excited to launch Global Gamers Challenge, a hackathon for gamers who are interested in creating games that can help further advocate for climate education and action.

The goal for the Global Gamers Challenge is to build a game from scratch with a focus on food, waste, or restoration. Below are five tips to get gamers started on this journey:

  1. Make sure the game is fun. Games are a form of entertainment and entertainment should be fun and engaging. Without fun, players might not return to your game and that would mean they would miss out on what you are trying to tell/teach them.
  2. Understand the audience. What should the player accomplish and how can they do this? What do players already know? Is there anything that stands in the way for your players to reach their goal?
  3. Define the goal of your game. Are you trying to teach your players a new skill? A new behavior? Or are you perhaps trying to change their beliefs? Try to focus on one goal rather than multiple as you can’t tackle everything at once.
  4. Be science smart. Make sure that when sharing knowledge or recommending your players to take a certain action that this is evidence based and on point, rather than inaccurate and off point.
  5. Get feedback. Once you have your idea ready, run it by a group of people like family and/or friends. Get their feedback and use this to finetune your idea.

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought to help you find your mission; to set your course and choose how your game will inspire people to take action for the environment; and to build your crew as this is not a challenge that anyone can tackle alone. Plus, by working together we can make the biggest difference. 

Get Started

Learn more about Playing for the Planet here. For a deepdive in environmental game design, download the Environmental Game Design Playbook here. For more solutions that you can use as a game developer of any level check out the climate game toolkit here.


Defend the Planet

We’re Launching a Hackathon for Gamers to Help Combat Climate Change

By Lisa Pak