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Another successful Green Game Jam raises hundreds of thousands for eco causes

I'd love to see more big game makers get involved.

An environmental-themed image split vertically into three parts. The first part shows a turquoise sea; the second a green jungle; and the third a snow-capped mountain.
Image credit: Playing for the Planet Alliance / Green Game Jam

UPDATE 29TH JUNE: The full list of winners for the Green Game Jam are as follows:

  • UNEP Choice: Boom Beach (Supercell)
  • Best Newcomer: Tray Racers! (Bitloom Games)
  • Media's Choice: Boom Beach (Supercell)
  • Player's Choice: June's Journey (Wooga)
  • Best in Wildlife: June's Journey (Wooga)
  • Jam Spirit Award: Bandai Namco (Pac-Man) and MAG Interactive (QuizDuel, WordBrain, Ruzzle, Word Domination)
  • Google's Choice: Love & Pies (Trailmix)
  • Industry's Choice: My Talking Angela 2 (Outfit7)
  • Most Adoptable: My Talking Angela 2 (Outfit7)
  • ORIGINAL STORY 28TH JUNE: This year's Green Game Jam has just wrapped, and as with last year, I was asked to judge the Media's Choice part of it. If you don't know what it is, the Green Game Jam is an annual event organised by the Playing for the Planet Alliance - itself organised by the United Nations Environment Programme - that challenges game developers to make 'activations' for their games. These are packages of content both in and around the games based on a theme.

    The theme this year was conserving wildlife and biodiversity, with a particular eye on the snow leopard and the Himalayas, the manta ray and the Western Indian Ocean and the harlequin toad and the Amazon. And as always, the sentiment fuelling the jam was how much can a game teach us about a problem while having some kind of impact on the real world too?

    There were dozens of entries - 41 in total - and the best ones showed efforts inside the games and outside them, in their communities, and raised or donated money towards a cause. Remember, some of these games have enormous audiences so leveraging even a small portion of them - for fundraising or otherwise - can have a massive effect. And the winner we chose did exactly that.

    Our winner was Boom Beach, a game made by Clash of Clans behemoth Supercell. And its activation revolved around conservation of the sea turtle, which wasn't one of the animals specifically listed above but still fit within the brief.

    This is a shortened version of the Boom Beach sea turtle documentary. The original version doesn't seem to be available any more. No other company commissioned a project like this, though. This video also shows some of the bespoke art and cinematics created for the Boom Beach game. Great package overall.Watch on YouTube

    Supercell built a storyline in the game about it, revolving around a mad scientist whose giant robo-turtle malfunctioned and started stealing turtles, and dressed it up with bespoke cutscenes and artwork and gameplay content. Supercell also commissioned a mini-documentary about sea turtle conservation, and flew its two hunky Boom Beach community people, the CosmicDuo - I kid you not - to Panama to record it. The resulting video is actually pretty good.

    On top of that, Supercell donated $200,000 to the Sea Turtle Conservancy and promised to donate proceeds raised from selling a specially created in-game sea turtle statue to the cause. Across the board, it was a great entry - clearly a lot of work had gone in.

    Quick shout-out to Nexters' mobile game Island Questaway in second place, and Ubisoft's free-to-play fighting game Brawlhalla in third. And to every other company which entered. We admired all the work on show.

    But I'm left feeling a bit concerned, too, because of games and companies which weren't involved. Last year, there were high profile entries to the Green Game Jam in the shape of Sony's Horizon: Forbidden West and Creative Assembly's Total Warhammer 3. And I got really excited about the precedent they might set for the industry going forward.

    I hoped they might inspire the biggest companies in gaming to join in, and I daydreamed about the power a game like World of Warcraft of Fortnite - and their communities - could have in a situation like this.

    But this year, Sony and Creative Assembly were absent from the Green Game Jam, and there were still many other notable absentees from our sector of gaming too. In fact, if you disregard Ubisoft's Brawlhalla, every activation in the Green Game Jam this year was for a casual or mobile game.

    What happened?

    Perhaps the huge charity efforts the gaming industry made towards the Ukraine war effort played a part. This saw - to name but a few - Unity donate $623k, 11 bit Studios donate £520k, and Square Enix donate $500k. A special Stand With Ukraine Humble Bundle also managed to raise a staggering £16m to help. And these were by no means the only companies getting involved. Perhaps games companies only have so much space and time for charity fundraising initiatives.

    It's also worth pointing out that just because a company didn't take part, doesn't mean it is doing nothing about environmental concerns. I don't think that's even possible in 2023.

    So while you don't see entries from Sony and Microsoft, for example, in the Green Game Jam 2023, both are not only members of the Playing for the Planet Alliance, they also have incredibly detailed and progressive environmental plans themselves.

    Against those kinds of plans, the Green Game Jam might seem insignificant, but it still represents an annual opportunity for companies to reach into players' - people's - lives and inspire them to make a difference to a situation we're all facing together. This year alone, the Green Game Jame has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for important environmental causes.

    And with more games than ever being live service operations, and therefore having ongoing development teams and storefronts through which they can deliver additional content to large communities of players, the potential is there for the games we write about on Eurogamer to get involved.

    But will they? I hope this time next year, I'll be delightedly telling you the answer was yes, because the possibilities - the possibilities are huge.

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