As the country went into lockdown last year, some of us started working from home, others juggled the demands of home schooling, and some even learnt to play the ukulele. But while much of the population spent their days saying, ‘you’re on mute!’, gamers around the globe took part in the first ever Green Mobile Game Jam. It was a mammoth task, but there was no time to console themselves (see what we did there?), as their new daily routine levelled up and became eat-sleep-game-repeat!
What’s a Green Game Jam, you ask? It’s not the kind you spread on your toast, but more of a virtual project and competition, where the UN-backed Playing for the Planet Alliance brought together some of THE biggest names in mobile gaming, with the goal of finding innovative ways to educate and empower players about climate change through existing games.
The first Jam, which took place from March-April 2020, saw 11 major companies with a combined reach of 250 million monthly active users involved, who each developed game activations informed and inspired by some of the best scientists and thinkers on the biggest environmental themes of our time.
The results were better than they could have ever expected. Turning ideas into action, all of the members agreed to integrate their activations into their games over the following 12 months, as well as signing up to get involved again with the next Jam – which has just announced its first set of awards for 2021.
With innovative new levels and features revealed for titles from Transformers: Earth Wars to Subway Surfers, and even Angry Birds, there was a green game update for everyone to enjoy in both this year’s and last year’s Jams.
Here’s just a few of our favourites:
- Hungry Shark World
Hungry Shark World is shining a light on melting polar ice with a new game update full of exclusive content: Extinction Arctic.
Set in a universe filled with true-blue aquatic life, the new update will show the effects of climate change in a brand-new game level. Using tried and tested systems from previous work, this update will bring a new and more challenging way to play in the Arctic Ocean.
UBISOFT have said they hope to implement these features in the game, and by making the gameplay relevant, they want the game to be subtly educational by giving players appropriate actions and rewarding their efforts with environmental change and prosperity.
- Hill Climb Racing 2
The multiplayer sequel to the world-famous single racing game with over half a billion downloads globally, Hill Climb Racing 2 wanted to take traditional thoughts about supercars and throw them out the double-glazed window – by introducing electric and hybrid vehicle parts.
Today’s super cars are powered by electricity and developer Fingersoft wanted to help raise awareness of this, with new parts available for super acceleration, and recharge stations with solar panels for use in events.
The company said it’s been an interesting challenge bringing up themes like climate change in a racing game where black smoke coming out of the cars is usually considered a good thing, even though it’s a source of pollution! They want to show that by doing things right, like choosing electric parts for a vehicle, you can actually race faster and win - while still reducing emissions!
- Big Farm: Mobile Harvest
Good Game’s Plant-A-Tree event encourages players to collect as many tree seedlings as they can while playing on their farm, fulfilling their market contracts, plus lots more!
If the community reaches the goal of collecting a certain around of seedlings, the players will be rewarded an exclusive decorative building to place on their farm. An in-game blog will share links about reforestation and how to contribute to reforestation efforts.
- Anno 1800
All about growing settlements into huge metropolises, creating massive production chains and managing vast quantities of resources, this game takes place in the era of industrialisation. Players are rarely confronted with the idea of sustainability and can exploit the environment without repercussions, but now Ubisoft is introducing a new game mode with upside-down game roles focusing on the important of sustainability and ecosystems.
In order to grow in Anno, players normally produce more and more goods to cater to their people’s needs. This time however, the environment will react to the players actions: Building monocultures depletes island fertility, over-fishing destroys food supplies for future generations, and deforestation leads to deserted islands. Ultimately, these things will be the player’s downfall.
- Choices: Rising Tides
When your family’s fishing business is affected by a major fish die-off, you and your activist-minded sister try to raise awareness about climate change and end up going toe to toe with a large corporation whose practices are damaging the environment. They find themselves unintentionally cast as the face of an eco-activist movement in this exciting story game.
Pixelberry Studios said that focussing on what you can do and can change can really make a difference in how you engage with the movement.
- Animal Jam Eco-System
Wildworks have released this game so all players will have access to wind turbines, solar panels, and even reward plaques for creating energy efficient Dens. By earning and placing renewable energy items in their Den, players will earn Eco-Credits that can be used to power an entirely new class of items within Animal Jam!
When engaging with the eco-system, players will receive educational facts about energy conservation, sustainability of the environment, and a variety of different ways they can have an impact in the real world. Whether players want to create their own solar and wind farms, collect or trade their Eco-Powered Items, or just learn about reforestation, the Animal Jam Eco-System provides a fun and creative activity for learning about our environment.
Next article: Young game designers take on real world issues