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What do gamers think about global warming?

August 30, 2022 in Games | 7 min. read
Still from Gibbon: Beyond the Trees, a game by Broken Rules.
Still from Gibbon: Beyond the Trees, a game by Broken Rules.

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Image Credit: Still from Gibbon: Beyond the Trees, a game by Broken Rules

Recently, we partnered with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication to investigate global warming knowledge, attitudes, policy preferences, and behavior among video game players in the United States. We’re thrilled to share some key takeaways from that survey, along with a few examples of how Unity creators are leading the sustainability charge.

Project background

Video games have become one of humanity’s favorite forms of entertainment, with industry analysts estimating that approximately 3 billion people around the world at least casually play. People of all ages, nationalities, genders, and socioeconomic statuses enjoy games, and this broad reach has enormous potential to address climate change.

Over the past several years, researchers have begun exploring if and how video games can be used to educate, engage, and empower players on the issue of climate change. Indie developers, AAA studios, and groups like the UN-backed Playing for the Planet Alliance and the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Climate Special Interest Group (SIG) (Unity is a member of both) have started seriously looking at these questions and the broader role that the video game industry can play in addressing the climate crisis. This is the “all hands on deck” decade for climate action, and all sectors of society – including the video game industry – have important work to do. Gaming companies need to decarbonize their own operations, and they also have an incredible opportunity to shift cultural norms and knowledge. The What Do Video Gamers Think About Global Warming? report is intended to spark thinking and creativity on the latter.

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication’s studies are among the top-tier research efforts underway to track and understand people’s perceptions about climate change. So, when our team began thinking about how the video game industry could authentically and effectively engage on this topic, we immediately thought of Yale’s longitudinal study. We then convened a small but mighty advisory group – Paula Escuadra of the IGDA Climate SIG, Grant Shonkweiler of Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center, Jerome Hagen of Microsoft, and Sebastien Dore of Ubisoft – who generously provided their industry knowledge and perspectives.

Our takeaways

We hope that this study helps lay a foundation upon which the broader ecosystem of green game developers, climate planners, advocates, and communicators can create engaging and informative game content to change the world. Access the full report, then read through three core takeaways from our team.

7 in 10 video gamers say they are worried about global warming

For a great primer on global warming’s causes, impacts, and solutions, check out this video from our partners at Project Drawdown.

56% of gamers think the gaming industry has a responsibility to act on global warming

It’s encouraging that more than half of gamers surveyed understand that gaming companies – as with all businesses – have a responsibility to act on global warming. This is a clear signal to the video game industry that customers want to see them taking meaningful action, for example by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions across operations, sourcing 100% clean energy at data centers, extending hardware longevity, and increasing energy efficiency through methods like adaptive performance

22% say they’ve seen global warming content in a game or gaming stream in the last year

Games are a powerful tool for pioneering new ideas, connecting communities, and sharing knowledge. While this statistic shows a positive trend in gamer education, there is still plenty of opportunity here. Have you ever considered adding sustainability action or education into a game you’re developing? Our partners at the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Rockefeller Center for Resilience have training and resources to support climate-focused game developers.

For live titles, the Playing for the Planet Alliance hosts an annual Green Game Jam – check out some of the amazing ideas from this year’s event and register your interest to join in 2023. Past participants have included Angry Birds 2, Riders Republic, June’s Journey, and Monument Valley II.

More than half of survey respondents said they would sign a petition, contact government representatives, volunteer time, or donate to an organization working on global warming

In 2021, you helped us donate more than $350,000 USD to Oceana and through Humble Bundle purchases that were matched 1:1 by Unity CEO John Riccitiello. These funds directly support Oceana’s work to protect and restore the oceans and Carbonfund’s efforts to hasten the transition to a clean energy future. You can further support these organizations through volunteering, donations, online pledges, and by sharing their resources with your networks.

Continued impact

Global warming is especially threatening to the world’s poor, future generations, and plant and animal species. For those interested, here are more games made with Unity that aim to educate about these impacts and encourage positive change:

  • Ahi Kaa Rangers – Venture outdoors with this mobile game to experience indigenous stories in the living world while consolidating important ecological data.
  • SAMUDRA – Adventure across a polluted sea in this award-winning game to learn from underwater creatures about “surface-dweller” actions threatening the marine world.
  • Jungle Heroes – Help plant real trees while learning about wildlife conservation in one of Studio Birthplace’s many sustainability projects.
  • Gondwana VR – Immerse yourself in the Daintree Rainforest to learn about biodiversity and the importance of this irreplaceable ecosystem.
  • Wildeverse – As effective at expanding environmental knowledge and attitudes as watching a full-length documentary, Wildeverse takes players straight to the front lines of conservation.

To learn more about the action we’re taking and the work being done by Unity creators, sign up to receive our sustainability newsletter. And, join us on November 2 for the Unity for Humanity Summit, convening social impact visionaries from around the world for inspiring talks, networking sessions, and more.

August 30, 2022 in Games | 7 min. read

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