Tech Talk: What Impact Does Gaming Have On The Environment?

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Tech Talk: What Impact Does Gaming Have On The Environment?

STORY: Nicholas Yong
26 May 2022
Playing video games might not seem like it is tied to the climate crisis, but it is. Here are some ways we can ensure a greener gaming future.
Playing video games might not seem like it is tied to the climate crisis, but it is. Here are some ways we can ensure a greener gaming future. | Photo: Nicholas Yong

Gamers, you must have read the title and thought to yourself: No way, how can that be?! I mean, we’re just playing video games all day (or night), right? It’s not like we’re littering or burning rubbish behind an HDB.

Well… gaming actually does impact the environment, and, sadly, not in a good way. The real world doesn’t have a New Game+, so things really need to change to ensure a greener future.

But first, let’s identify the Secret Bosses of the gaming industry, and find out what aspects of gaming make it an environmental nightmare.

Suspect #1: The video games themselves

Pause whatever you’re doing and take a look at your video game collection. Now think about all the energy that was used to manufacture these games, and then ship them from wherever they were made to your local game store. The entire process leaves behind a massive carbon footprint.

Even digital games aren’t free of fault. If you’re constantly connected to the 'net to game, you’re contributing to greenhouse gases because data centres and network infrastructure produce CO2. In fact, they constitute 4% of all greenhouse gases.

Suspect #2: The hardware

Gaming consoles and PC parts require mined materials to be made: think copper, gold, nickel, and zinc. A quick Google search will show you countless controversies surrounding how and where these materials are mined.

The mining process – extracting the materials to production – pumps out billions of kg of CO2 into the air. A 2019 research found that since the PlayStation 4’s release in 2013, approximately 8.9 billion kg of CO2 has been generated. Scary sia.

What can we do about it?

The big game companies have pledged to do their part: Microsoft wants to be carbon-negative by 2030, and Sony aims to have a zero environmental footprint by 2050. Meanwhile, Nintendo is practising eco-friendly measures in the development of its video game systems and accessories.

What about you? Now you might be thinking, “I’m just one guy leh, how can I make a difference?” But you certainly can! Here are some smart choices you can make to be a more sustainable gamer:

1. Shut it down!

Completely turn off your PC and gaming consoles when they're not in use. Don’t leave them on standby mode unless you’re thinking about gaming later in the next couple of hours. Leaving your devices on idle still takes up power.

2. Make the switch to digital

Yes, we did say going digital affects the environment, but sticking to physical games means you’re contributing to that huge carbon footprint from the manufacture and shipping of discs and boxes. You can pack more games into one HDD or memory card anyway - why would you want to get up to switch game discs?

3. PS5? That can wait

If you don’t need a new console or PC hardware upgrade… why so kiasu want to upgrade? There’s really no rush to get a PlayStation5 unless there’s a game you really want to play (and don’t pay scalper prices either!). We believe you can overcome the FOMO.

4. What for you want that lah?

Does that sound like bae asking you why are you buying some fancy accessory on Shopee? She’s right, you know – stop buying pointless stuff like LED lights or extra fans that really don’t help cool down your gaming set-up. You’re only contributing to landfills when such cheap stuff stops working.

5. Let’s recycle!

Don’t throw away your broken console or PC into the bin! Recycle instead – click here to learn all about e-waste in Singapore and where you can send your old electronics for recycling. Why recycle? When your gadgets get left in landfills, they leak substances such as lead, and arsenic (ew). Worst of all, our Semakau Landfill will run out of space by 2035.

Or consider putting them up for sale on Carousell or in Facebook groups – one gamer's trash is another gamer's treasure.

Let’s all level up by doing our part to create a greener gaming future 🌱

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TAGS: Tech Talk , Games , LIVING , Tech
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