How Can Video Games Be Environmentally Sustainable?

Here are some ideas on how the video game industry could be more environmentally sustainable.


In my innovation class today we went around the room and presented two innovative ideas. After six people presented, the class would vote on their favorite idea. Even though several presentations involved sustainable technologies, people tended to vote for the ideas that would help them save time or money. I’d like to think that here in Portland, OR we would be thinking more about how to be environmentally friendly, but nothing is more persuasive than saving money.

For the past few years I have pondered how video games or the video game industry itself could be more sustainable. Games like Dragon Age, Fallout, Mass Effect, and Skyrim are some of my favorites and I aspire to work in some way, shape, or form with games in the future. However, after taking several classes on sustainability I have struggled with how I would be alright with working for a sector that has seemingly done nothing to become environmentally friendly. If initiatives exist out there then I would love to hear about them, because I cannot find anything substantial. Having said that, I do recognize that some companies are trying to promote a more sustainable world in-game. I want something more real world though. I began to think about video game developers and companies could create positive environmental changes.

With this is mind I continued on with my life. Perhaps companies could create incentives for employees to volunteer or materials needed to manufacture video games and consoles could be collected in a way that would be more environmentally friendly. I personally don’t have the know how, the experience, or the power to be able to implement these possible solutions. Nor, do I have the knowledge of the industry to make an informed decision on whether or not it would be financially possible for a video game company to go out of its way to do better. All companies should do this, but for some it is not feasible. Through all of these garbled, partially constructed ideas I remembered that people like to save money.

What if console manufacturers like PlayStation and Xbox no longer created a new console every few years. After the new ones come out it seems to make past models obsolete. Which means that entire consoles are discarded or just sit collecting dust while the new console is played. It becomes a cycle of throwing out the old one to replace it with the new, and even if you keep the old console they are usually replaced by the new one after they finally breakdown. If you’d like to know more about this then I recommend looking up planned obsolescence. I get it, companies need to continue to make money, so they couldn’t create one console and have that be it. The way technology is progressing that console would be replaced with new tech within a couple years. We need to rethink how consoles are made. Here’s my proposition: don’t replace entire consoles. Instead, Xbox and PlayStation could continue to develop parts of the console, and sell each piece in separate parts. If you own a console and the battery decides to die, just purchase a new battery pack instead of throwing out the entire system. It saves materials and money, but companies would still continue to make a profit. When technology makes another leap the pieces needed to upgrade the console could be sold and the owner could just replace the parts. Bam! New and improved graphics without having to buy an expensive console.

Again, I could be completely unaware of why this idea would not work. If it was a success though it could not only reduce waste but save people a lot of money. And who doesn’t enjoy savings? Let me know your thoughts! I’d love to hear them.

-Sabrina Arnold (iwouldliketonerd)