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A chat with MAG Interactive about reforestation and protecting the oceans

MAG Interactive is a Swedish mobile games developer based in Stockholm with a global player base and a wealth of puzzle games in its portfolio. We recently sat down with Chris Peters, QA Coordinator and Customer Support Manager, who’s responsible for the quality control and support for all their Live Ops games. Chris is one of the driving forces with MAG’s Green Game Jams, so we thought we’d pick his brain about what the company is doing to make a difference and why MAG decided to make its green footprint a priority for the studio.

Was there a turning point where you decided to be more proactive as a business about managing your environmental footprint?

There wasn’t necessarily a specific turning point; it was mainly a result of our MAG Jam meetings – which is company time staff are given to invest in new ideas, self-learning and passion projects – where we all agreed that it was time to play our part. MAG then decided on a company level that we should be part of the Playing for the Planet Alliance. Working with the UN definitely solidified our thinking. During our collaboration with them, we were exposed to a lot of information from specialist ecologists and scientists, which made the dire state of our climate abundantly clear.

I think many people don’t necessarily realise how much small changes can make a big impact when it’s part of a collective effort. That’s really at the heart of all of these initiatives we’ve taken on and the key message we wanted to get across to all of our players.

For instance, changing your energy and gas supplier is a simple way to make a difference. Globally, the energy sector is responsible for 31% of greenhouse gas emissions, so going green would make a big impact.

Can you explain a bit about MAG’s 2020 tree planting initiative?

This all kicked off when we were invited in 2020 to participate in Playing for the Planet. We pledged to plant a real tree for every 2000 in-game acorns our players collected in WordBrain. One aspect that really brought the project to life was that players could see exactly where in the world their tree was planted. In total, our players collected 8.7 million acorns, equating to 4355 real trees, MAG then topped up that figure to reach our initial goal of 5000.

The project was voted ‘most adoptable’ at the Green Mobile Jam in 2020, which personally really gave me the impetus to look to more green initiatives and explore what more could be done in future.

Can you explain about the initiatives you’ve undertaken in 2021?

Throughout October we held an Ocean event across all of our Live Ops games based on the UN-led initiative Glowing Glowing Gone, to raise awareness of the ongoing destruction of marine ecosystems. The project involved in-game ocean-themed quizzes to raise awareness, while also inviting players to sign a petition for the preservation of coral reefs via the Glowing Glowing Gone website, or to donate any amount to projects that are working to protect ocean health. Our goal was to reach a million signatures before the recent COP26 to drive change at the government level.

Firstly, we really wanted to integrate environmental messages into the design of our games, so we did a big rebrand across our titles inspired by the coral colour scheme used by Glowing Glowing Gone to make the event really visually clear and cohesive to our players.

I think doing it across all of our games made a much bigger impact on our players, and it gave us as many touchpoints as possible to get them to sign up. We didn’t want to bombard them, so it was about finding the right balance while giving them every opportunity to make a pledge.

Although we didn’t reach our initial target, the results have been really positive, and we’ve had great feedback from our players. In total, MAG Interactive contributed around 26,000 signatures – which is no small feat, and a figure I’m proud of.

Outside of these great initiatives, is there anything else you’re doing at a company level? Do you have any plans for the future?

As a company, we try to be as environmentally conscious as possible in everything we do. Part of that means continually striving to become carbon neutral and reducing our footprint as much as possible.

So we have work policies around our practices. For instance, we only ever book flights for meetings when it’s absolutely necessary, and when the same result can’t be achieved with a virtual meeting. Like so many companies, flights are the biggest contributor to our carbon footprint. Another seemingly simple thing we do, is run all of our servers on the Google Cloud, which is far greener than comparable options, and the company is making great strides in moving towards carbon-free, green energy. But like I said, small changes can make a big difference.

Reforestation has been a major focus in the past, but I’d really like to do something around carbon sinks and carbon capture, as the technology is quickly becoming a powerful countermeasure against climate change and rising temperatures – so definitely watch this space!

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