Playing for purpose: Mobile games are changing the world for the better

August 3, 2023
Chelsea Africa
min read

Mobile gaming has transformed the way we experience digital entertainment, with smartphones and tablets providing unparalleled accessibility to games. The industry has witnessed a surge in popularity, making mobile gaming the largest segment of the gaming market. However, amidst this boom, a heartening trend has emerged - gaming studios are using their influence to drive environmental change.

Not only are studios crafting immersive gaming experiences with in-game activism, but they are also taking proactive steps to minimise their carbon footprint and promote environmental responsibility.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Several studios are now incorporating the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals into their games. These goals address critical global challenges, such as climate action, biodiversity conservation, and poverty eradication. By integrating these goals into their games, studios are leveraging the power of gaming to educate players about these important issues and inspire real-world actions.

Playing for the Planet Alliance

One influential establishment that has spurred studios into action is the Playing for the Planet Alliance. Launched in 2019 during the UN Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit, this alliance unites gaming studios for a common cause - environmental sustainability.

An example of the impact of this alliance can be seen with member MAG Interactive, who recently announced their contribution of 1,554 hours of fieldwork thanks to their community.

MAG Interactive's LinkedIn announcement

The Playing for the Planet website highlights that all members, including Space Ape Games, Oh BiBi, GameDuell, UsTwo, Gamigo, and more, have committed to:

  • Corporate carbon footprint reductions and a collective shift to green energy
  • Insertion of green nudges into games
  • Commitments to offset emissions (for internal operations and gamers' devices)
  • New circular economy design and recycling offerings to control plastics and e-waste
  • Achieving more together

In-game activism

Considering ‘green nudges in games’, it is exciting to see how gaming is being used as a direct platform for social and environmental activism. Studios are developing games that encourage players to participate in real-world environmental initiatives. Players are rewarded for completing in-game challenges that directly contribute to causes such as planting trees or supporting eco-friendly organisations. This gamification of activism motivates players to take tangible actions for the planet, making environmental awareness an integral part of their gaming experience.

Longleaf Valley: The Power of In-Game Activism

One of the best examples of in-game activism is Longleaf Valley by TreesPlease. The game revolves around a fictional valley devastated by deforestation. Players take on the role of creating their wildlife reserve, building habitats, rescuing animals, and restoring the forest both in the game and the real world. As players progress and achieve goals, they earn tokens that contribute to reforestation efforts worldwide through TreesPlease's partnership with the Eden Reforestation Projects. The initiative has already led to the planting of over 700,000 real trees thanks to players' contributions.

Making in-game donations effortless

While studios can make donations directly to causes, and on behalf of their players, there are companies like that make this easier. For example, partners with a variety of vetted environmental impact partners which include initiatives like ocean clean-ups, saving sea turtles and protecting wildlife habitats. They then help studios turn in-game actions into what they call 'eco-rewards' and take care of the donation process for them. Studios receive certificates for their various impact drives and their players can track their real-time impact and even share it on social media.

If you’re not already using your titles for good, you should consider the ways it can help:

  • Engagement: It provides an additional layer of motivation for players, keeping them more engaged with the game. The integration of environmental initiatives within gameplay adds depth and purpose, making players feel a sense of accomplishment beyond traditional gameplay goals.
  • Retention: When players realise that their gaming efforts contribute to real-world environmental causes, their excitement levels increase. This heightened sense of purpose leads to improved player retention, as they are driven to continue playing and making a positive impact.
  • Monetisation: Integrating eco-friendly elements into the game allows studios to create additional revenue streams. Players may be more willing to make in-game purchases if they know that part of the proceeds will support environmental initiatives.
  • User acquisition: The appeal of eco-friendly gameplay can attract new players, particularly those who are environmentally conscious. Word-of-mouth promotion from players who appreciate the game's positive impact can also lead to organic user acquisition.
  • Brand Recognition: By aligning their games with eco-friendly initiatives, gaming studios can enhance their brand image and reputation. Players are more likely to associate the studio with positive values and may become loyal supporters of their games.

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