Are you a gamer? Then you belong to the 34 million nationwide who regularly reach for a computer game. But what about the environmental impact – is gaming sustainable?
Many visitors are flocking to the world’s largest trade fair for the video game industry – in terms of exhibition space and visitor numbers – the Gamescom. In 2019, it took place at the exhibition center in Cologne with the motto “Cloud Gaming”. It run from August 20th to 24th. Cloud gaming or “Gaming as a Service” means playing video games over a server. The servers require electricity that has to be generated – and not always environmentally friendly. However, sustainability is not an issue at the fair, although the gaming industry is now larger than the film or music industry.
Games are more popular than ever
Video games are becoming increasingly popular. In Germany alone, according to the Association of the German Games Industry, over 34 million men and women play games on a daily basis. 48 percent of gamers are female, 52 percent male at the average age of 36. The trend continues to increase. Whether with game apps on mobile phones or with the family and friends playing games online at sites like https://www.yesgamers.com/diablo-2/runes or on the console playing the latest games by Nintendo. The variety of games contributes to further spread. But storage space is necessary for the games: According to a forecast by Statista, the data volume is expected to increase to around 180 billion gigabytes by 2022 – four times the previous consumption.
Environmental pollution increases
The increasing demand for storage space and thus computing power increases power consumption and consequently also the environmental impact. According to a study by Springer Science and Business, gamers worldwide consumed around 75 billion kWh of electricity in 2015. That corresponds to about one-sixth of the annual German electricity consumption. The numbers are also rising sharply due to mobile consoles and smartphones. New technologies such as the 5G cellular standard are contributing to the progress. They support the current gaming trends e-sports, virtual and augmented reality as well as cloud gaming services such as Google Stadia or PlayStation Now.
New concepts needed
To counteract the growing environmental pollution, energy-efficient and sustainable IT infrastructures are required. For example, a hot-water direct cooling enables people to benefit from the heat waste of data centers to add heat to buildings and for connecting to district heating networks. This technology reduces CO2 emissions and at the same time saves cooling and heating costs. Other data centers around the world want to take advantage of the technology to reduce the environmental impact of gaming.