I think I’ve always suspected that something happens behind the TV when I download a game or a patch, or I play online, but I’ve never seriously stopped to think about what. And when I say behind the TV, I don’t mean actually behind the TV, I mean on the internet. I know that data gets piped out and sent back, because that’s how I download the files to play games, but beyond that, I don’t really know what’s truly taking place. I’ve never needed to think about it before.
Except recently, I began wondering. I am worried about the climate emergency and I was looking at my life and thinking about the things I do and the effect they have on our world. And I looked at gaming and I didn’t know. It seemed quite clean. There’s no packaging waste in the way there once was because I download most of my games, and none of my machines cause noticeable spikes on my electricity smart meter, not like my shower does.
But then there was this niggling thought that perhaps it wasn’t as clean as I wanted it to be. Somewhere in my mind I knew it had to do with data centres, and I’d heard some pretty bad things about how much power they consumed. ‘Why don’t we know more about this?’ I wondered. But as I looked around, I couldn’t find the information I needed.
At around the same time, my fellow Eurogamer writer Chris Tapsell came to me with similar thoughts of his own. He’d been alarmed by the IPCC report on climate change and wanted to look more closely at what the games industry was doing to improve. So, we decided to work together. We decided to pool our resources and find the answers we readily couldn’t. What does it cost the environment when you download a game? Today, we’re publishing our answer.
In our report – What does gaming’s all-digital future mean for the climate crisis? – we introduce the problem, look in depth at how the industry is handling it, and then consider our collective role in the equation and what to do next. The report will be supplemented tomorrow by a piece summarising what we learned.
It’s been a lot of work, and we’ve spoken to many people and read many papers while putting together our report. But we believe these are the issues we should be talking about, and writing about, more, and we hope that in providing you with a clearer picture of them, we can help stimulate those conversations. Time is running out.
But the topic of sustainability and video games is bigger than we could ever fit in one report (which is pretty large as it is), so I want to assure you that we want to do more. The climate emergency is too urgent for us to look away now. Consider this, then, a beginning.
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