Story at a glance

  • In 2019, several major video game companies formed the Playing For The Planet Alliance.
  • The goal of the effort is to help address climate change and better the environment.
  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, several companies have managed to make progress.

“Stop staring at the screen and go outside!”

Nature and technology have long been pitted against one another as opposites at best, enemies at worst. But a new project is bringing the two together. 

One year after it was formed, the Playing For The Planet Alliance is that much closer to its commitments, including a 30 million tonne reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, millions of trees planted, new “green nudges” in game design and improvements to energy management, packaging and device recycling.


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"The alliance freed CEOs to be making stronger statements [on climate change]," Trista Patterson, a lead economist for non-profit GRID-Arendal based in Norway, told Business Insider. "And that meant the workforce could come forward with ideas about energy savings, or games, or whether commuting was affecting operations. The tech sector is enormously competitive, and games are competitive by nature."

Like most things, the alliance’s operations were disrupted by COVID-19, moving monthly coordination calls online, while some companies are going ahead on their own volition. Sony has avoided an estimated 17.5 million tonnes of carbon equivalent emissions for PS4 to date, according to a release, and is promising an energy efficient PS5 system that can suspend and resume game play at 0.5 watts.


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In June, Sony PlayStation partnered with the UN Environment Programme to create an immersive virtual reality experience to raise awareness of climate issues and promote an environmentally friendly lifestyle. 

“COVID has brought unprecedented disruption to how we live our lives, but now as we move out of lock-downs, we have an opportunity to develop new habits that can keep us within the safe limits of a 1.5 degree world. We hope that this ‘virtual reality check’ will show people how beautiful and possible these new lifestyle choices are," said Ligia Noronha, Director of UNEP’s Economy Division, in a statement

Patterson co-authored a study that outlined seven recommendations for the video game industry, including fiscal incentives for "serious" sustainability games and helping parents engage with their children around gaming. As days grow shorter and the weather grows colder, the goal is to help users stay connected to the environment and the goal of addressing climate change. 

"It's a global phenomenon," Patterson said. "A lot of times I was thinking video games were relevant and exclusive to the developed world, but that's not the case. Even lesser-developed countries are accessing video games. People in the games industry have heard about Silicon Valley companies over and over again."  


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Published on Sep 28, 2020