Household name entertainment companies and start-up game developers assembled for this year’s Green Game Jam to showcase new “green activations”* in 33 new and live games, aiming to highlight to hundreds of millions of players worldwide the critical role of forests and oceans in the fight against biodiversity loss and climate change.
The 2nd annual Green Game Jam — organised by the UN-facilitated Playing for the Planet Alliance — follows the inaugural event in 2020, which featured 11 mobile game studios. The aim of the Jam is for studios to innovate on games with existing player bases, or those which are soon-to-be-released. This year, 26 studios spanning PC, console and mobile games submitted entries, with brainstorming and sharing sessions between different teams taking place virtually. Entries to this year’s Jam include the first-ever video game climate walk, “plant a tree events” that lead to real world restoration efforts, and flipping a game’s rules upside down to reward sustainable choices.
Video games have become one of the most powerful entertainment mediums on the planet: by the end of 2021, there’s forecasted to be over 2.9 billion video game players worldwide. This enormous reach presents an opportunity to engage vast global communities in the theme of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration — to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
In March this year, the studio teams convened for a series of educational workshops to learn more about the importance of conserving and restoring forests and oceans, the theme of this year’s Jam. Workshops were conducted by experts from the UN Environment Programme, as well as leading minds such as Peter Wohlleben, Dr. Elizabeth Bagley and Kristian Teleki. Participants then went to work and submitted their “green activations” at the end of May, with the entries judged across five categories including a “Player’s Choice” award, which saw almost 100,000 votes from the video games community.
Jane Campbell, Studio Operations Lead at ustwo games, winner of the Participants’ Choice: “One of our goals with the Green Game Jam was to inspire our fellow developers in their efforts against climate change. This support from our GGJ peers means a lot and in turn inspires us to aim higher with our activation.”
Sam Barratt, Chief of Youth, Education and Advocacy at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), commenting on the UNEP Choice winner: “This year’s Green Game Jam brought together a cadre of best-in-class game designers who’ve shown an unbelievable amount of creativity to adapt their games on the theme of restoration, and Anno 1800 really stood out from a high quality field. As studios now move from ideas to implementation in game, we’re excited to see how their activations create new conversations among their vast player communities, helping to inspire a future where online actions can deliver offline impact for nature.”