How Gaming Can Make A Better World?

The environment has been in trouble for a while but now it is getting worse. The environment is very important and affects many, if not all, aspects of life, if it is not taken care of it, will be detrimental in many ways. In the TED talk, “Gaming can make a better world,” Jane McGonigal says that gamers can solve anything they put their minds to, but are only motivated to do those things in games because they know they can succeed, they don’t try anything for the real world because they think they can’t, but if they learn a habit they can bring to the real world.

“We piloted this game with 1,700 players in 2007, and we’ve tracked them for the three years since. And I can tell you that this is a transformative experience. Nobody wants to change how they live, just because it’s good for the world, or because we’re supposed to. But if you immerse them in an epic adventure and tell them, ‘We’ve run out of oil.

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’ This is an amazing story and adventure for you to go on. Challenge yourself to see how you would survive,” most of our players have kept up the habits that they learned in this game” (McGonigal).

In, “Speech to the United Nations General Assembly,” Margaret Thatcher says that the United Nations have been finding ways to make life better and more enjoyable, including the environmental aspect of life. They are learning about what is causing the problem and how they can adjust and make it better.

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“What we are now doing to the world, by degrading the land surfaces, by polluting the waters and by adding greenhouse gases to the air at an unprecedented rate — all this is new in the experience of the earth. It is mankind and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways” (Thatcher). During the speech, she says that the president needs to be more focused on the problem and make it a bigger deal, more people learning about this, especially gamers can make a big impact on finding a solution by knowing there’s a problem.

Gamers can play environmental games and learn about environmental problems. Gamers who play environmental games can learn about climate change, global warming, and other environmental changes. People can learn about the extent of environmental problems when playing games and can know what is happening instead of just hearing it and not understanding what it means. “Players work together in a shared online world where every action impacts the environment around them. Laws to restrict or encourage almost any kind of behavior can be suggested and enacted to test their effects on the world. Collaboration is absolutely key to success which sets Eco apart from most solitary survival games and provides better lessons for the real world in the process” (Bianco). Eco the game is a game that wants players to make a civilization that can stop an asteroid from impacting the Earth but they need to make sure to keep the environment in mind while doing so.

They build a civilization and in doing so it affects the environment, they can check the ecosystem and effects on it and the environment in charts on the game so they can see how what they’re doing is affecting it, they can pass laws like forest and animal protection areas and mark where they apply, make factories and buildings that emit gases and waste, and on a smaller scale they can hunt animals and harvest crops and trees but if unchecked and done excessively can make a big impact. The point of the game is to show people what we are doing in real-life is affecting our planet by giving them a world to control and watch the consequence, good or bad, of each choice. Though that is the desired outcome, not everyone will get the message of the game to its full extent. They might understand that some things affected their world but not others or not connect it to the real world it’s mirroring.

Developers just have to make the message as clear as possible with the possibility of going to the full extent as writing a message at the end of the game saying what it was and why or what caused it. “The game’s most salient message, though, is that cities are extremely complex. You have to deal with power, water, housing, transportation, pollution, even sewage. Sewage was controversial, says Librande. ‘When we first started talking about it people said, wait, that’s not fun, nobody wants to deal with sewage.’ But after watching a documentary about Chicago’s sewer system, they decided that sewers are an amazing piece of infrastructure that people hardly ever think about- and the game could force them to” (Dzieza). Simcity is a game about city-building and urban planning and the environmental effects it has on the city and the surrounding areas which then affects the people.

Gamers can do different things to raise the cleanliness of the city and make it more enjoyable to the people and can tell how the environment is by the environmental bar that is in the game making telling when it is high and when they need to lower it easier so people can change things and see how much it lowers the bar. People playing this game will think about things in ways they didn’t before and even thinking about things they didn’t at all. Even though they think about it though they might not practice outside of the game. Though there is no real way to make a person develop new habits and do the things they learned, they will always think about it and could eventually lead to small changes to their lives that will benefit the environment.

People can make games that mirror real-life situations. If gamers used what they learned in games in real-life then they could help real-life problems like they do in games. Using what they learned in games in real-life can help people get solutions and learn more about environmental problems. “For the most part, we are largely ignorant of oil and just how important it really is. It’s one of the most powerful and versatile fuels on the planet, made from dead organic matter that has been slowly compressed and heated over millions of years. It’s in everything, from toothpaste, lipstick, polyester, and even plastic, but now it’s all gone, and what was kept in reserve is dwindling rapidly. A huge chain reaction has now been set in motion, that is quickly crippling every part of our lives from hospitals, food, and of course power. The crisis is only just beginning” (Kenny). “A World Without Oil” is a game that had people play and control a world that had just run out of oil. The players tell them where they’re from and play it gives them situations, newspaper headlines to explain what is going on, and people's reaction to the event. As they play it will change the outcome they get in the end, then after playing they send in their results and they then examine them and how they got them and use them for their research.

Though this game makes it clear the things that will happen when oil they still don’t think it will affect them. The only way to address this is to make sure they know this will affect everyone and will be sooner than they think. “In the real world, even leaders of nations are having trouble figuring that out. But in the new strategy video game “Fate of the World,” players singlehandedly confront that daunting challenge while tackling peak oil, overpopulation, and saving the rain forest to boot” (Rudolf). “Fate of the World” is a global warming game where gamers either have to let it happen or have to solve it, and players have to figure out how and get different endings to get the successful one. Depending on how they play depends on how the public responds, playing as a dictator gets them voted out and ends the game, failing gets them another end, doing nothing another, same with driving the world into debt. The successful ending only happens if the people still follow them and they successfully stopped global warming and aren’t in debt. In a game like this, they can cheat and some people do to get a good ending, in doing so they don’t learn anything from this game which defeats the purpose. There is no real way to stop them from cheating on the game but in the end, they may remember the end result of the game.

People making games for others to try, learn about, and make a difference solutions, this then can cause people to do them in real life. An interactive game with no name made Players try to turn the power on for houses and buildings and they have different power sources including a windmill farm, solar panel field, a hydroelectric dam, then a nuclear power plant, and a coal mine. They could only turn on so many buildings and homes before the dam or some of the windmills couldn’t run and by then some of the houses turned off leaving less than half still with power, showing that it was not easy to have only clean energy like hydroelectric, solar, or wind energy and need nuclear and fossil fuels. There are a few websites that give a list of different games already made, Johnston says Climate Challenge, Fate of the World, CEO2, VGas, CO2FX, “Operation: Climate Control” game, My2050, Plan it Green, Logicity, Electrocity, Climate Culture, World Without Oil, and Simcity. The different games have different outcomes and show people different things, they can focus on different problems or just be a different type of game played differently, but the more types of environmental games we have for gamers to play games the more gamers that will play them.

One repercussion of making more games is more waste is made already. “For example, if all games were downloaded instead of manufactured, that would save 2.4bn gallons of crude oil, the infographic states” (Costanza). “Six billion pounds of games and consoles have been sold, and if all the games and consoles produced by Nintendo ended up in a landfill, that would amount to the weight of more than 5,555 Statues of Liberty” (Costanza). “Worldwide e-waste has exceeded 92 billion pounds” (Lofgren). There's a lot of trash to a single game most of which gets thrown away immediately or never used. “When development on a video game wraps up, the product is forwarded for the manufacturing process. A master disc is created, then replicated for each physical copy of the game required. Discs are then transferred to the printing line for artwork, and then to the assembly packaging line. Discs are placed into their plastic boxes with paper covers and (if the publisher is feeling generous) paper instruction booklets, then packed into cardboard cartons, stacked on wooden pallets, and secured with film wrap” (Stanley). Then receipts and that's repeated for each game, remote, system, and other add-ons but there are significantly more for games than the counterparts, then there are the gift cards to the games which then get thrown away after use.

Making all of the games digital would save a lot of plastic and waste making it environmentally better. Something to think about is the storage situation when it is on a disc, not everything has to be on the system and it reads the disc but when it is on the system solely it would require more storage causing the systems to be made to hold more. People also like having the disc to show off instead of just on the system, as some people like a book more than just a kindle. Another solution could be making the boxes smaller. DS cards are very small compared to disc and have large boxes for their sizes. Making the boxes more to size would shorten the waste significantly. But people wouldn’t want weird-shaped gaming boxes they want to be able to stand them up and show them off making them harder to do so.

Gamers can make the world a better place by using what they learned in games and applying them to the real world. Playing a game that requires players to build a world or a city without ruining it teaches them how to, they can help by knowing how to make changes in their lives and encouraging others in theirs, and making changes in their town, city, or community. Playing a game that talks about things that will happen soon, and being able to tell others their results, helps them know what is happening and how we can get through it. Making different types of games for people to play and like gets them to know what is going on and learning what is happening in a way they can enjoy and understand. People say violent games make violent people, well maybe eco-friendly games will make eco-friendly people.

Works Cited

  1. Bianco, Karn. “What if video games could help fight climate change? No, really” WIRED, 6 Sep 2018, simcity-civilization.
  2. Dzieza, Josh. “SimCity Is Smarter Than You (Even If You’re an Urban Planner)” Daily Beast, 26 Feb 2013, urban-planner.
  3. Costanza, Tina. “The Environmental Impact of Video Games (Infographic)” Siliconrepublic, 10 July 2012, environmental-impact-of-video- games-infographic.
  4. Johnston, Ellie. “19 Climate Games that Could Change the Future.” Climate Interactive, 9 March 2012, games/19-climate-games-that-could-change-the-future/.
  5. Kenny, James. “A World Without Oil: The Aftermath” Soapboxie, 24 June 2016,
  6. Lofgren, Krista. “The Environmental Impact of Video Games” Big Fish, 15 November 2016,
  7. McGonigal, Jane. “Gaming can make a better world.” TED. Feb. 2010. Lecture.
  8. Rudolf, John Collins. “Global Warming For Gamers.” The New York Times, 2 Nov. 2010,
  9. Stanley, Steve. “Digital or Physical? The Case for the Environmental Impact of Our Gaming” Polygon, 9 July 2015, 8921205/digital-or-physical-the-case-for-the-environmental-impact-of-our.
  10. Thatcher, Margaret. “Speech to the United Nations General Assembly.” United Nations General Assembly, 8 Nov. 1989, United Nations Building, New York. Address.
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
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How Gaming Can Make A Better World?. (2020, Oct 31). Retrieved from

How Gaming Can Make A Better World? essay
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