Why are international leaders turning to mobile and video games to tackle environmental issues?
How have meaningful mobile games caught international attention?
Whenever I discuss what Wildchain does, people always seem intrigued (or I at least talk at them until they can’t not be intrigued) and pleasantly surprised; a conservation mobile game? Gaming to save the planet? How could an industry so firmly rooted in entertainment tackle social issues? It sounds too good to be true! However, this concept has been tried and tested and is now catching of leaders in environmentalism.
According to a report published by DFC Intelligence, a whopping 40% of the global population plays video games; that’s 3.1million people!!! This is an enormous potential audience already avidly participating in this activity; if this activity were to be redirected toward societal issues, the potential is endless (something us at Wildchain have already figured out!).
But it’s not just us who have sniffed out the potential here; international organizations such as the UN and EU are jumping on the bandwagon to use mobile and video games to catalyze civic engagement with environmentalism. Our aligned approach with global leaders in environmental action leads us to believe we’re certainly onto a winner!
The EU – The LifeLong Learning Programme
The EU has called for innovation in environmental education, particularly among young people in educational institutions. Programmes within the EU, such as the Lifelong Learning Programme (2007-2013) have turned to ICT as a means of improving how EU citizens engage with environmental information.
In 2015, a school project was launched in Greece to test the capabilities of Location-Based Mobile Games or LBMG’s amongst students in higher education. LBMG’s are games that people play whilst moving through physical spaces (think Pokémon Go!).
We all know how popular Pokémon Go became; in the US it actually resulted in an increase in car crashes within vicinities of PokéStops causing $498,567 in vehicular damage. Nothing to brag about however it does show the levels of dedication gamers can have for LBMG’s, so why not redirect this enthusiasm into meaningful play?
In this particular study, players were able to actually develop and create aspects of their world based on real-world environmental issues. Compared to ordinary learning, feelings were incredibly positive in relation to learner experience due to a number of common components found within mobile games (see figure 1).
The predominant feeling surrounding this method of learning was satisfaction, fun and challenge. These feelings ranked much higher than those of boredom, anger and frustration which are often intrinsically linked to education. In fact, the feeling of learning wasn’t even ranked particularly high as players engaged in educational concepts without realizing they were doing so (see figure 2).
However, beyond LBMG’s which we have shown to be highly addictive, satisfying and engaging – can other mobile games be efficient in achieving raising environmental awareness?
UNEP – Playing for the Planet
The UNEP certainly thinks so; they set up the Playing for the Planet Alliance in 2019 which consists of the biggest names in the video game industry who share a commitment for using their platforms in order to tackle the climate crisis. These games are varied in their style and approach and certainly don’t singularly consist of LBMG’s.
The Alliance has the potential to reach upwards of 970 million video game players. Furthermore, it holds video-gaming companies to high environmental standards reducing their environmental footprint. Each member goes through a rigorous process, providing key proof of their environmental actions prior to being accepted into The Alliance. The UNEP laid of 5 key commitments which MUST be undertaken in order to enter and benefit from the alliance:
- Corporate carbon footprint reductions and a collective shift to green energy
- Insertion of green nudges into games
- Commitments to offset emissions (from internal operations and gamers’ devices)
- New circular economy design and recycling offerings to control plastic and e-waste
- Achieving more together
Members must achieve these at the bare minimum however, should aim for additional goals to achieve. The circumstance are win-win in terms of the UNEP using a platform with significant potential whilst video gaming platforms get the seal of approval from the UN bettering their reputation, increasing their popularity and promoting them.
Once Wildchain is launched in October 2021, we are firmly committed to becoming a part of this innotivate initiative. We are firmly dedicated to each and every one of the aforementioned commitments (as well as many others we would love you to learn about at https://wildchain.io/impact/!).
As multinational corporations move into the realm of gaming to provide environmental education, it further solidifies our belief that this is a niche with significant potential to battle the environmental crisis!
- Ackermann, J. and Mariani, I., 2015. RE-THINKING THE ENVIRONMENT THROUGH GAMES. DESIGNING LOCATION BASED MOBILE GAMES IN HIGHER EDUCATION FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS. Intergenerational Learning for Nature Conservation Volunteers. [online] Milan: INVOLVEN. Available at: <https://re.public.polimi.it/retrieve/handle/11311/973300/79672/INVOLEN-Ackermann_Mariani.pdf> [Accessed 9 August 2021].
- Nesterenko, O., 2020. DFC Intelligence: 3.1 billion people play video games | Game World Observer. [online] Game World Observer. Available at: <https://gameworldobserver.com/2020/08/17/dfc-intelligence-3-1-billion-people-play-video-games> [Accessed 9 August 2021].
- Playing4theplanet. 2021. Members – Playing4theplanet. [online] Available at: <https://playing4theplanet.org/members/> [Accessed 9 August 2021].
- Sharwood, S., 2017. Pokémon GO caused hundreds of deaths, increased crashes. [online] Theregister.com. Available at: <https://www.theregister.com/2017/11/27/pokemon_go_caused_car_accidents_and_deaths/> [Accessed 9 August 2021].
Yasmin is from Ireland and has just completed a MSc in Green Economy with Bournemouth University, UK. Her studies are concerned with interconnecting environmental issues multidimensionally so conservation efforts can be applied holistically and sustainably. She works as a Conservation Associate with WildChain but, prior to that Yasmin was an English Teacher in Spain for three years and a Diving Instructor in Thailand and Greece for two years. Environmentalism has always been intertwined with everything she does – she wants this to be the same across all sectors, including the gaming one!