A super-impressive roster of well-known studios including Ubisoft, Niantic, ustwo and Mojang came together this summer as part of the second-ever Green Game Jam to create what they are calling ‘green activations’; in and out-of-game such as new modes, maps, themed events, storylines and messaging that highlight themes around the conservation and restoration of our oceans and forests.
The Green Game Jam was launched to coincide with World Environment Day on the 5th of June, and the themed activations ran for a month, at which point a set of winners were announced across five categories – including for the first time a “Player’s Choice” award.
UK studio ustwo games won the Participants’ Choice Award, based on the votes of the other participating teams. It was chosen for its upcoming activation in Monument Valley II, called “Lost Forests”. In the game, players will interact with and learn about the importance of trees as part of their in-game journey. Players will be encouraged to support a forest conservation petition called Play4Forests.
The winner of the Most Adoptable Award was the developer Breaking Walls along with publisher Perp Games. This award was given for the activation judged by the other participants as the easiest for other game companies to adopt. In the game Away: The Survival Series, the planet has been devastated by global warming. To emphasise the importance of taking real-world environmental action, the developers will include a reforestation zone in-game which is themed around the Play4Forests petition, including a link where players can add their names to the petition. Gamers can even play out a unique scene from the game via an Augmented Reality integration on the game’s physical box.
TiMi Studio Group was awarded the First to Implement Award, as the first participant to fully launch their entry. In fact, TiMi’s activation is already live in two games in China, offering players interactive content and educational information about the relationship between humans and nature. One of the games, Craz3 Match, is a match-3 puzzle game where players overcome challenges to save wildlife in the forest.
Ubisoft Mainz was the winner of the UNEP Choice Award, chosen by a panel of judges drawn from the UN Environment Programme. In its game Anno 1800, which takes place in the era of industrialization, players interact with and take advantage of the environment around them without repercussions. However, in order to highlight the importance of sustainability and the interdependencies of ecosystems, the team will introduce a new mode where the game rules are reversed, and players will need to make choices based on sustainability rather than growth at all costs.
And last but by no means least, Berlin-based Wooga won the Player’s Choice Award, voted for by the player community. As part of a special event in-game June’s Journey, players can buy in-game tree decorations. Based on the number of trees they purchase in-game, Wooga has pledged to plant trees in the real world.
Sam Barratt, Chief of Youth, Education and Advocacy at UNEP, summed up the success of this years event, which was impressive for the creativity and enthusiasm on show.“This year’s Green Game Jam brought together a cadre of best-in-class game designers who’ve shown an unbelievable amount of creativity to adapt their games on the theme of restoration, and Anno 1800 really stood out from a high-quality field. As studios now move from ideas to implementation in-game, we’re excited to see how their activations create new conversations among their vast player communities, helping to inspire a future where online actions can deliver offline impact for nature.”
As well as all this great activity, two pledge campaigns have been set up for anyone to get involved with. Play4Forests is focused on conserving and restoring forests in areas such as the Amazon, the Congo Basin and South East Asia, while Glowing, Glowing Gone is a campaign concentrating on the protection of coral reefs, home to a quarter of all marine life, through climate and ocean action. The hope is that by participating, players can encourage their local communities to engage with these campaigns, with the petitions will be presented to world leaders at future UN Summits including COP26, the UN’s Climate Summit, later this year.
The Green Game Jam is the brainchild of the Playing for the Planet Alliance, which is part of the UN Environment Programme. The full list of studios taking part is certainly impressive, including BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America, Creative Mobile OU, E-Line Media, GameDuell, Goodgame Studios, Hinterland Games, MAG Interactive, Mojang Studios, NetEase Games, Niantic, PlayStation Studios Media Molecule, PlayStation Studios Team ASOBI,PerpGames, Rovio Entertainment, ShiftSpace, Sony Interactive Entertainment Platform Team, Space Ape Games, Supercell, Sybo, TiMi Studio Group, Tiramisu, Toppluva, Ubisoft Annecy, Ubisoft Barcelona Mobile, Ubisoft Future Games of London, Ubisoft Mainz, Ubisoft Paris, ustwo games, Wildworks and Wooga.