What Is The Environmental Impact Of The Gaming Industry? One Researcher Wants To Find Out

A researcher in Australia want to know: What is the environmental impact of the video game industry, and what do game developers themselves think about their carbon footprint?

Researcher Dr. Ben Abraham from the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS) is calling on game developers to weigh in as part of a new research project that aims to “create a snapshot of the energy intensity of contemporary video game development in the workplace where games are actually made.”

To do this, Abraham is looking for first-hand information from game development studios regarding their carbon emissions policies and practices.

In addition to that kind of numerical data, the study is looking for respondents to speak about the “attitudes of game developers towards the potential environmental impacts of their work.” The survey is asking for developers to discuss their level of interest and concern about climate change and carbon emissions that are created by the game development industry.

“This research is being conducted to find out about the energy use and associated carbon emissions of digital game production both in individual workplaces and across the sector as a whole,” reads a line from the survey. “The research aims to find out what game developers are doing to reduce their carbon footprint in order to inform future research and policy decisions that aim to support sustainable game development practices.”

Abraham is looking to collect information about the energy usage of a game studio, what workplace policies might be in place regarding carbon emissions, and policies about other environmental issues such as recycling and powering off computers at night.

Abraham said developers can take part in the survey without identifying themselves or their employer if that is of concern, though he added it may not always be possible to protect the identity of participants.

In 2019, the United Nations announced an initiative called “Playing for the Planet,” which saw gaming giants like Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft, and Niantic announce plans to work together to come up with best practices for reducing the environmental impact of the video game industry. Nintendo is missing from the alliance but the company already operate an Environment Committee at the company’s headquarters in Japan, while each of its overseas subsidiaries have their own committees that look into environmental impact in their regions.

Microsoft is producing 825,000 carbon-neutral Xbox game consoles as part of a pilot program that represents the first gaming consoles in history to bear that designation. As for Sony, the company has said the PlayStation 5 will be more environmentally friendly.

In total, the efforts undertaken by the 21 game companies is estimated to result in a “30 million ton reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030.” Additionally, “millions” of trees will be planted, while game companies will enact practices to do better in the areas of “energy management, packaging, and device recycling.”

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