Sustainability and the Gaming Industry


Emma Goss – passionate final year student of Computer Games Design tells us why she is determined to change the world using her two passions: designing games, and sustainability.

My passion for sustainability started when reading articles about the amount of pollution, lack of recycling, and plastic waste. This made me feel frustrated as we only have one planet, which is being littered and destroyed. The amount of waste thrown into landfills when it could be reused or recycled is horrifying and can have such a devastating effect on the environment around us. Hearing this inspired me to buy zero waste products and proper ways into recycling, and then inspire others to do the same through sharing my newly bought products on social media. 

Introducing sustainability into the gaming industry is an amazing opportunity, as gaming is one of the biggest industries in the world. According to a recent report by Newzoo’s senior market analyst Tom Wijman, the global gaming market will generate $159.3 billion in revenue in 2020. Gaming is becoming mainstream and popular, with different genres and mechanics opening the gaming world to new possibilities. Combining the use of gaming and sustainability will create an amazing opportunity, as sustainability is a huge issue right now and introducing this into the gaming world will make a vast audience aware of the changes we need to make. 

According to the UN environment program blog written on 23rd September 2019, the video gaming industry is levelling up their fight against climate change through its mechanics and console production. Phil Spencer, the executive vice president of gaming at Microsoft, states “climate change is impacting each industry, and we believe technology can play a critical role in enabling and empowering the response to this challenge.” Microsoft is introducing actions such as the “Build a better world campaign” in Minecraft and a Carbon Neutral Xbox pilot. This will provide the perfect opportunity to mix Mircosoft’s technology, sustainability and the gaming community, to make a huge difference through the business and environmentally.

Children are also spending more time playing games. According to research by Statista, the amount of gaming hours has gone up dramatically in recent years. With children aged 3-4 playing around 4.7 hours a week and 5-7-year olds playing an average of 6.3 hours. This is a huge increase from 2013 and 2014.

Why I chose sustainability as a topic

This time last year I was deciding whether to go straight into the final year or take a year out to do self-placement. I eventually decided to do a self – placement, but what on? 

Reading about the Amazon fires in August 2019 was devastating, about all the acres of land affected and peoples’ homes being destroyed. Plastic in the ocean is also a huge issue that needs to be addressed at a larger scale. Articles by WWF in August 2019 state the urgency of plastic pollution. Plastic is everywhere. It fills our oceans across the world, over eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean. Dumped?! Into a creature’s habitat, into their home. The effect is devastating on them, turtles have come out of the sea with plastic wrapped around them. Seeing this inspired me to make a change through an educational, powerful game. 

Ocean Rescue ideas and aims

From reading this, I was determined to make a difference through the skills I developed on Games Design and I saw doing a self-placement as the perfect opportunity for this. 

In the end, I decided to make a seaside themed asset pack with rubbish on the beach and in oceans to demonstrate how bad this situation is getting. 

After this, I decided to develop an educational game called Ocean Rescue. This is the perfect opportunity to change the perspective on climate change in a unique way which teaches the basics about helping the planet as well as creating a fun experience. Ocean Rescue is set on an abandoned beach with rubbish, trapped animals, and a lacking sense of community. Players will be able to restore the rubbish-filled beach to its former glory by helping the residents, saving animals from plastic, and cleaning the ocean. As a newcomer to the beach, you will also have the option to customise the blank island to your choosing. 

The target market for Ocean Rescue is 5-10-year olds. This target age was picked specifically because it will create more of an understanding for the younger generation. When I was younger, I never knew about the effects our footprint had on the planet, and this was rarely taught in school. Reminiscing on this inspired me to teach this to the younger generation, as the problem is only getting worse. 

Ocean Rescue trailer

What I have learnt about sustainability

During the development of Ocean Rescue, I have learned loads about sustainability itself. Especially the fact that sustainability is considered not just in relation to our oceans and forests. Sustainability is all around us in our daily lives. It affects our food, education, fashion, and employment. One quote from the “5 Minutes to Change the World” series which stuck with me was “it is not okay to put profit over people and the planet”. This is very true, as even traveling to work through public transport will increase your carbon footprint. People feel obliged to go for the job which pays the most money, or is at the best company, but this usually is not what’s best for the planet. 

Thank you for reading.

Emma Goss

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