Fighting the stigma against mental illness. Advancing social justice. Protecting forests, oceans, and wildlife. 2022 was an incredible year for real-time 3D (RT3D) creators driving change, and we can’t wait to see what our creator community will produce in 2023. In this post, the Unity Social Impact team reflects on highlights from the past year across the industry.
The Game Awards is an annual ceremony that recognizes “creative and technical excellence in the video game industry.” The Games for Impact category highlights games with a “pro-social meaning or message.” In 2022, five of the six games in this category were made with Unity. We're thrilled to see creators who are using games to drive change be recognized for their creativity and vision.
And, of course, congrats to the winner: As Dusk Falls by Interior/Night.
Last November, creators from around the world joined us to celebrate groundbreaking projects that aim to make the world a more sustainable, inclusive, and better place for all. During the Summit sessions, we heard about the power of digital twins for sustainability, art, activism, and RT3D for social justice, XR for marine conservation, and more.
Actor and activist Rosario Dawson also joined us to discuss her vision for the future of tech-led creation. “We used to be all around the fire – the medicine woman, the warrior, the mother, the father, the child, the person who worked with the animals, and the food. Everyone had an equal space around that fire where they came together as a community. And, as industry built up, we started going into that pyramid shape where it was just the few people at the top and all the workers at the bottom,” she shared. “What’s remarkable now, with this technology, is we get to open up that portal, and get that light in our face and be back around the fire again through our watches and our tablets and our phones.”
Watch the full keynote below.
Throughout the year, we chatted with a number of intrepid creators to learn how they’re using real-time 3D to make the world a better place.
Technical Director Murari Vasudevan explained how the SYBO team wove its social impact mission into Subway Surfers by partnering with Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Foundation to promote daily acts of kindness and hosting a Play 2 Plant in-game event which helped plant over 500,000 trees.
We kicked off the Changemakers Showcase interview series with Cat Ross, designer and researcher of Gone to Water / Ido al Agua, an immersive documentary sharing first-hand accounts of environmental injustice in Los Angeles, Tongva Land. In the blog, she shared her vision for the future of real-time 3D as a tool for social justice.
“We are hoping to employ VR as both a tool for inciting empathy as well as furthering digital inclusion within virtual spaces.” – Cat Ross, Love Death Design
We also spoke with Felix Bohatsch, game director of Gibbon: Beyond the Trees, and heard about his motivation for creating a game that raises awareness of the plight of gibbons in Southeast Asia. Read more about Felix and Gibbon: Beyond the Trees.
“The power of games is that you can show your players the world, and its problems, from a different viewpoint.” – Felix Bohatsch, Broken Rules
In March, we announced the winners of the 2022 Unity for Humanity Grant and the Imagine Grant. These remarkable creators received funding to support their projects that use real-time 3D to address social issues around the world.
Darkening – an immersive virtual reality (VR) film based on creator Ondřej Moravec’s personal experiences with depression – was one of these winners. The creators aim to raise awareness of mental illness and fight the stigma associated with depression.
“I imagine a world where people understand that if you have depression, it's not just a sad day. Depression is an illness. Everybody wants to be seen as the one who is simply ‘okay,’ but sometimes we’re not, and that’s not a bad thing.” – Ondřej Moravec
The Unity for Humanity Grant is designed to support and empower social impact creators using real-time 3D to make our world a better place. Judging for the Unity for Humanity Grant 2023 is now underway. If you’re working on a changemaking project and would like to apply next year, pre-register for the Unity for Humanity Grant 2024 to be notified when it’s announced.
Virtual reality is changing the future of gaming, social networking, engineering, fashion, and more. As demand for VR development skills increases, we’re on a mission to make VR education more accessible to all.
Last year, we released our VR Development Pathway. This six-week online course is completely free, making it easier for anyone to learn how to create effective VR experiences. Throughout the Pathway, you’ll create eight unique projects and learn all of the fundamentals you need to prepare for a job in VR.
We’re also committed to helping academic institutions train the next generation of VR developers. In 2022, we partnered with Meta to donate $1M in funding and 5,000 Meta Quest 2 VR headsets to schools across the U.S. in an effort to propel immersive learning and diversify the mixed reality (XR) creator workforce.
2022 also saw us partner 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. The study gave us a deeper understanding of gamers’ beliefs about climate change and how we can work toward a more sustainable industry. One key takeaway was that 22% of respondents said they’ve seen global warming content in a game or gaming stream in the last year. As more developers realize the potential of real-time 3D as a tool for driving awareness and change, we’re excited to see even more climate change-themed games in the future.
These are just some of our highlights from 2022. Want to hear more about the work Unity creators are doing to make the world a better place? Sign up for our Social Impact mailing list for regular news and updates about this incredible work.