UN’s Playing for the Planet inspires gaming industry to change

For the first time, gamescom’s opening night show and core events were 100% climate neutral. The organizers, the German Games Industry Association and Koelnmesse set a clear goal for the world’s largest gaming event, to lead the way in terms of climate protection and become the first major climate-friendly gaming event.

Over four days, from 24 to 28 August, 250,000 people physically attended the event in Cologne, Germany. Online it attracted over 130,000,000 views across the entirety of the show’s program. 12,000,000 views alone for the Opening Night Live which rewarded the year’s best games and introduced new upcoming titles to millions of eager fans around the world.

During the live opening event, gamescom and the United Nations Environment Programme’s Playing for the Planet gave out the first-ever Gamescom Goes Green Award. The trade association for the UK’s games and interactive entertainment industry, Ukie, was awarded the prize for best sustainability concept from among the 1,100 exhibitors representing 53 different countries at this year’s trade fair. In 2021, Ukie published the Green Games Guide, which helps gaming companies with the first steps toward reducing
their carbon footprint.

Dr. Jo Twist, CEO of Ukie, thanked the United Nations Environment Programme’s Playing for the Planet initiative for inspiring the industry to change, before encouraging industry leaders, the live audience and millions of online viewers to take individual actions to protect the planet. “It is so fantastic to see these amazing game worlds we are going to play in over the next year, but we only have one planet to live on. And we only have one lifetime to make a change and to protect that planet so we can continue to play our games. Everybody, whether you are a player or a business can make one small change starting tomorrow, and together we can play more game together and save the planet.”

Visitors were invited to make voluntary contributions to climate protection. A green ticket could be purchased and donations made online, the proceeds of which benefit the gamescom forest. The sustainability project of gamescom: together with its project partner Treemer, is rebuilding a climate-resilient mixed forest near Bayreuth. So far, they have already been able to reforest 18,500 m² of forest thanks to the great commitment of the community.

Environmental protection and climate protection play an increasingly important role for the games industry. 76 per cent of German games companies are already involved in corresponding projects to operate more sustainably and to raise awareness of these issues. These commitments are a reflection of the industry’s engagement with the “Playing for the Planet Alliance”, a cooperation between the United Nations and the games industry.


Playing for the Planet

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been working with the gaming industry to explore how, through their massive reach, they can inspire young people to learn and act in support of the environment. The gaming industry reaches 1 in 3 people on the planet and has a platform with unprecedented influence.

The Playing For The Planet Alliance was launched in 2019 at UN Headquarters in New York during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit. In joining the Alliance, members have made commitments ranging from integrating green activations in games, to reducing their emissions and supporting the global environmental agenda.

In 2021, over 50 environmental actions were taken by the Alliance with the support of 7 major gaming trade bodies. Over 60% of the Alliance members have made a commitment to become net zero or carbon negative by 2030 and whether it be on land or at sea, the theme of restoration was built into games that reached over 130 million gamers.

The initiative is being facilitated by UNEP with the support of GRID-Arendal and Playmob.

The 2021 Annual Report is available here.


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