23 Apr 2019 Story Education & environment

Playing for the Planet: how video games can deliver for the environment

The gaming industry reaches one in three people worldwide and is thus one of the most influential industries in the world. Although this is impressive in itself, what is truly remarkable is this industry’s potential to influence the behaviour of young people on a global scale. To explore this, UN Environment has been working with the gaming industry, as well as with the International Olympic Committee and the World Scouts Movement, to determine how young people can act to protect the environment.

Released in March, a new UN Environment study titled “Playing for the Planet” looks at how the gaming sector can influence the behaviour of young people to act in support of the environment.

The study found that 87 per cent of the 50 leading gaming companies demonstrate a deep commitment to making a change and are willing to support further action on this issue.

With a viewership of 3 billion hours per week, the gaming industry has the unprecedented ability to capture the attention of a vast number of people. Seeing that many young people today are concerned about the issue of climate change, and because one in five gamers are under the age of 21, UN Environment argues that there is indeed a demand for environmental and nature-related content.

At the “Playing for the Planet” panel discussion held during the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in March 2019, important ideas and insights were discussed around the topic of gaming and youth:

  1. Agents of change: youth must be directly involved in message delivery rather than simply act as receivers because empowering young people to be agents of change is likely to lead to longer-lasting behaviour change.
  2. Fostering a relationship with nature: although video games can serve as a channel through which important environmental and social messages can be communicated, it is important not to forget about the importance of physically being in nature. “We need to get people on screens into the green and the green onto screens,” said panelist Inger Andersen.
  3. Influencing behaviour: measuring outcomes and impact is a priority. There should be a way to measure whether, for example, “green nudges” in games actually impact real-world behaviour.

To find out more, please visit Playing for the Planet.