How to be an Eco-Friendly Gamer
The gaming industry is booming, with over 2 billion users. While gaming offers a break from thinking about climate change, it can also contribute to it. We've put together a simple guide to help you understand the problem and become an eco-friendly gamer.
The environmental impact of gaming
Rising computing power, improved graphics quality, higher-resolution displays, and streaming delivery have rendered computer gaming an increasingly energy-intensive activity.
The video game sector is now larger than the movie and music industries combined. In 2021, the demand for personal computing devices grew to 347 million. Cloud gaming has arrived, with games now available online. US gaming now accounts for 2.4% of all residential power and CO2 emissions, equal to over 5 million cars. So reducing this impact is good for the planet.
With plastic cases, mined precious metals, e-waste, and immense power consumption - gaming has been unfriendly to the environment for years.
The problem is the greatest energy impact of a device or computer is during manufacturing, not through its use. In fact, around 66% of a computers' CO2 emissions are during production.
Research suggests that the environmental impact of notebook production is so intensive that we'd need to use it for between 33 to 89 years to offset the costs. Yet we replace our devices every 3 - 5 years. This short lifespan contributes to global warming and e-waste.
Recycling your games and electronic equipment can reduce E-waste. E-waste can cause substances like mercury, lead, and arsenic to leach into our soil and groundwater. Plus, contribute to our already overflowing landfills.
TCO Certified is a worldwide trusted sustainability certification for IT products. Manufacturers must meet specific environmental and social standards criteria to gain this certificate. So, gamers can research products before purchasing.
Cloud gaming growth has exploded with:
- Xbox Game Pass
- PlayStation Now
- Google Stadia (Discontinued in Jan 2023)
- Microsoft Project xCloud
- Amazon Luna
- Nvidia GeForce Now
Cloud gaming relies on data centers and networks to process the games, similar to streaming services.
While we ditched the discs, cloud-gaming energy use is much higher than local gaming. A console uses 156% more energy than local gaming when cloud gaming. Streaming video games is more demanding on data centers and network infrastructure.
Research shows that if the cloud gaming trend continues, by 2030, carbon emissions could increase by 30%. This problem is compounded with the advent of 4K gaming adoption.
Gaming companies understand that change is needed. Playing for the Planet is a UN Environment Programme alliance of top gaming companies, including Microsoft, Sony, and Google that promotes environmentally friendly gaming practices. Companies commit to:
- Reducing their carbon footprint and a collective shift to green energy
- Initiatives to offset emissions
- New circular economy design and recycling offerings to control plastic and e-waste
Right now, it's a waiting game to see how the video game industry might change. But, it's encouraging to see that so many big names are fighting for change and creating a greener gaming future. So - what can we do to minimize our gaming impact?
5 Tips to ensure green gaming
Our earth is warming. We play adventure games to save the virtual world. We can do the same by channeling this energy to protect our planet. We need to develop eco-friendly gaming habits.
1) Refurbish, reuse & recycle your machine
The truth is 93% of a computer can be recycled. So, the best strategy for eco-conscious gamers is to save existing electronic devices from ending up in landfills. There are three main ways:
Extending a computer's life is the most effective way to reduce its environmental impact. Hardware components such as graphics cards and CPUs tend to drop in price fast, so delaying updates might save you cash. Computer stores can refurbish it to a newer model.
Upgrades and repairs should be easy! So before purchasing your next device, check the 2022 US PIRG report that grades laptop and smartphone companies on how easy it is to repair their devices.
Acer's new eco-conscious Aspire Vero notebook makes disassembling easy for quick repairs and upgrades.
You may be looking for the latest and greatest in 2022.
If you must buy a better notebook for gaming, consider buying used. Barely used notebooks that are too out-of-date for a technologically advanced business might be perfect for gaming use.
Our Acer recertified store might help deliver a solid gaming experience. It saves costs, and you keep emissions down. That's a definite win.
Our mantra of buying new means that over 142,000 computers are thrown away daily in the US. To be an eco-friendly gamer, you should consider selling or giving away your old gadgets. Selling or donating your electronics is better than recycling. One gamer's trash is another one's treasure.
You can probably find a student or charity that would be happy with your obsolete computer. Else eBay it.
Acer includes a US recycling program. More local and national computer recyclers have opened shops accepting computers, so obsolete tech won't be consigned to landfills.
2) Power off and unplug when not in use
27% of a notebook's total CO2 emissions occur during use. Our gaming devices consume more electricity as they become more powerful. Check US government Energy Star ratings before purchasing to find the best options.
Technology is now always on and active. It keeps us distracted from the negative impacts on the world. For eight hours a day, a notebook uses between 150 and 300 kWh and emits 44 and 88 kg of CO2 per year. In standby mode, a notebook's power consumption is about a third. So, devices use a lot of power when idle, and most "leak" power even when off.
As an eco-friendly gamer, you should consider switching off all devices. This saves power, saves you cash, and reduces emissions to our environment.
3) Buy digital copies
The way physical video games are manufactured, shipped, and sold creates a huge carbon footprint.
Video game packaging causes environmental pollution with their:
- Plastic case
- Aluminum poly-carbonate disc
- Paper cover
You can now go fully digital and lower your carbon footprint and the industry's impact on the environment.
Thanks to Steam and PlayStation Store, digital copies of games are sold online without receiving physical copies. This initiative reduces the packaging of physical discs. It also eliminates the need for intermediaries that connect Tech companies to consumers.
4) Buy used games
Physical games can all end up in landfills, especially with annual games series like EA Sports. The plastic that makes the majority of games and consoles doesn't decompose.
So, as a green gamer, buying used physical games can help reduce this impact. It encourages you to enjoy your games, save cash and do your part to protect the environment.
5) Borrow and share games with friends
Sharing is caring. Caring for your friends and the earth is a big win for an eco-friendly gamer. There is no need to impress friends by being the first to order a new game. Instead, sharing and borrowing games can help you do your part in sustaining the earth.
The tips above will help you be a more eco-friendly gamer. Take the time each day to consider the small environmental changes you can make—the more of us that do it, the more significant the impact we can have. Our planet will thank us.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Robert Stark: Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.