The Green Mobile Game Jam

The​ UN-backed​ P​laying for the Planet ​​Alliance brought together some of the biggest names in mobile gaming for a green game jam.

The goal was to find innovative ways to educate and empower our players about climate change through our existing games.

The Green Game Jam took place from March – April and saw companies that normally compete, come together to collaborate, share and learn from each other as they explored how to integrate green nudges into their live games. 

The results of this year’s jam have surpassed all our expectations and here you can find out more as to what each studio did, how they will implement this work and some learnings that we think could be useful to other companies considering how to build green activations into their games.

What was the brief?

The participants were asked to address one or more of the following topics: 

  1. What individual commitments can be catalyzed to combat climate change through gameplay? 
  2. How can we activate players around the theme of reforestation and restoring nature through game-play? How could challenges be built into game-design which could lead to pro-environmental outcomes?
  3. How can we educate people about renewable energy in our games? Can awareness be increased through game design?
  4. Sandbox mode. The objectives above are meant to help you, not to hold you back. If you have a creative idea, go for it!

Participants

Transformers: Earth Wars

A real-time combat strategy game in which players can choose to align themselves with either the altruistic Autobots or devious Decepticons in a fight for the planet.

As Space Ape’s most successful title to date, with millions of downloads and thousands of active users, we believe a green activation in this particular game will have the biggest impact in our player community. 

Our goal for the Green Jam was to educate and engage our players about the benefits of renewable energy, which fit naturally with the existing theme of the game. We created a bespoke campaign which draws parallels between the fate of the Transformers’ home planet Cybertron, and planet Earth. Cybertron was ravaged and destroyed by harvesting the resource, Energon, through unsustainable means. With Earth at a risk of suffering the same fate, rivals Autobots and Decepticons come together, out of altruism for the former and pragmatism for the latter, to seek out a more sustainable means of harvesting Energon. 

The five-node campaign will guide the player through key messaging about renewable energy through the search for the Helio Harvester, a new solar-powered building which boosts Energon production. The campaign resolves with the acquisition of the new building.

In addition to the campaign and new building, we partnered with renewable energy organisation REN21 for a piece of citizen science. Players will be led through the campaign and then prompted to fill out a survey to build a more accurate picture of renewable energy options available in different parts of the world, which is currently lacking. Finally, we will ask our players to pledge to switch from incandescent to LED bulbs, with a target of collectively saving a minimum 24,000 kwh energy/day.

Since committing to going carbon negative at Space Ape, we have fostered a passion among our teams, and company as a whole, to try to do our part in protecting the environment. We’re just scratching the surface of the potential of our industry to move the needle, and we hope that rallying our playerbase will be a step in the right direction. We’re excited to release our green activation to our community, get player feedback, and brainstorm more ideas we could implement to make a bigger impact in the future.​

Ioannis Lefkaditis
Game Lead, Transformers: Earth Wars

Timeline for implementation

September 2020

Co-ran the initiative with

Subway Surfers

Subway Surfers is an endless runner set in modern times, spanning a variety of urban settings around the world.

The crew consists of over 80 diverse characters, representing cultures and subcultures around the world. They run on train tracks, nimbly jumping over oncoming trains, rolling under barriers, utilizing hoverboards, jetpacks, and other wild gear to their advantage — all to escape from a bumbling guard and his dog. Every few weeks, Subway Surfers visits a different location around the world, from bustling cities like Paris, Buenos Aires, and Dubai, to natural beauties Kenya, Iceland, and Hawaiii. Launched in 2012, the mobile game has had a phenomenal 3B downloads with 100M monthly active users, and we want to take advantage of our huge reach to make a difference. 

In our Fall 2020 “Running for the Planet”, Subway Surfers will have a World Tour stop in a location on the frontlines of the climate crisis. Bali is an island in Indonesia in the Coral Triangle, which is the global center of marine biodiversity and a global priority for conservation. 

Subway Surfers will continue to promote running as a sustainable activity. To increase awareness and normalise other efforts, the game environment will celebrate natural wonders, renewable energy, and increased urban reforestation. An ecologically-themed character and hoverboard will be created for this event. 

Running for the Planet will be supported by SoMe challenges, encouraging players to practice sustainable activities like running, and quantitative and qualitative analysis to provide insights into what types of in-game activities have an impact on player attitudes and behaviors regarding environmental causes. 

We look forward to having you join us as we run for the planet!

Using the power of games, we have a unique opportunity to boost world sustainability. By sharing and collaborating together for the Green Jam, both internally between departments and alongside a diverse range of other studios and sustainability experts, SYBO and our fellow jam studios have exemplified becoming stronger together. 

And we are doing it: we will be integrating our proposal Running for the Planet, in efforts to forge a stronger, more sustainable world. True leadership is about acting upon your visions and creating great impact. We talk the talk, walk the walk — and we will run that run!

Mathias Gredal Norvig
Chief Executive Officer

Timeline for implementation

September 2020

Co-ran the initiative with

Hill Climb Racing 2

Hill Climb Racing 2 has it all: lots of stages, stunning graphics and a physics engine unlike any other.

Hill Climb Racing 2 is a multiplayer sequel to the world famous single racing game Hill Climb Racing, which has over half a billion downloads globally. After journeying to where no ride has gone before, the main character, Bill is ready to take on the whole world in Hill Climb Racing multiplayer madness. Armed with an extensive garage of whacky, self-made vehicles and tuning parts, and mastery over the laws of physics, Bill will not rest until he has conquered the highest hills of Climb Canyon.

Today’s super cars are powered by electricity and we want to help raise awareness to this option, which brought up the idea of a new vehicle tune part: Electric/Hybrid part for super acceleration and recharge station with solar panels for the events. Fingersoft continues to deliver fun-filled content for mobile devices and at the same time introduce the effects of climate change, bringing new ways to race and enjoy the ride.

It is an interesting challenge how we could bring up themes like climate change in a racing game where the black smoke coming out of the cars is considered as a good thing and not a source of pollution. We would like to show that by doing right things like choosing electric parts for the vehicle you can actually race faster and win while still reducing the emissions.

Fingersoft
Green Jam participant

Timeline for implementation

Commitment under discussion

WordBrain / WordBrain 2

Our initial aims at MAG were to raise awareness and engage our players, laying the foundations to do further ecological awareness and environmental events in the future.

We planned implementation in three games:

  • In Wordbrain, we’ll run an event which will be themed around planting trees.
  • Wordbrain 2 will have an event, with its content chosen to raise awareness about the environment.
  • Wordzee players will receive a unique tile design for completing our eco event. Much like in Wordbrain, participation in the event can also contribute towards planting real trees.

These are all intended as frictionless ways for players to contribute.

Building on our initial ideas, we wanted to reach a wider audience and help reforestation efforts, so we are partnering with TreesPlease Games™, a for-good games company that’s building an exciting technology platform that has the potential to make a radical difference through games at an industry wide scale. 

The TreesPlease API™ enables games studios to connect to reforestation partners and provide tree planting donations directly inside their games. What makes this meaningful is that the technology is easy to adopt, offering a streamlined process for game developers to make a positive impact, enabling us to stay focused on improving our games rather than sourcing charity partners and developing new technology.

I learned so much in the workshops on how we can all individually have more of an impact and make a difference that I switched my electricity supply to green energy

MAG
Green Jam participant

Timeline for implementation

September 2020

Angry Birds 2

In a game full of joyful destruction, we’re taking a moment to inspire players with a message about sustainability and reforestation.

In Angry Birds 2, when the pigs’ towers come toppling down, more towers grow magically from the ground in a seemingly infinite supply. If only it could be so simple when it comes to trees and reforestation! The fact is, reforestation isn’t magic, but we can all play a part in protecting this essential natural resource. With that in mind, we would like to take this opportunity to inspire our players to learn more about the issues of sustainability and reforestation with two special themed events in Angry Birds 2.

First, there will be a Community Event encouraging players to pop as many pigs as they can. The event will unite the players in playing for the planet together! If the community reaches the goal of popping a certain amount of pigs, there will be exciting rewards in it for everyone! A pop-up will display both the individual player’s contribution and also the community’s current total of popped pigs. On this pop-up we will also share links where players can find more information about reforestation and how to contribute to reforestation efforts.

Second, a specially themed Hat Evolution Event will give players the opportunity to collect a special Forester Hat Set and participate in the Lost In The Woods Adventure.

Let’s play for the planet!

The changing climate will impact all of us, and the importance of doing the most we can to counteract it can’t be stated enough.  

I’m super happy that we got this opportunity to use the size of our game to get more people to engage with this initiative and to learn more about reforestation. We are very excited to share this with our players this fall!

Niklas Arnell
Product Manager

Timeline for implementation

October 2020

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–you find yourself unintentionally cast as the face of an eco-activist movement.

Something that’s become clear to me while working on this project is how important small changes can be. Focusing on what you can do, can change, really makes a difference in how you engage with the movement.

Coral Nardandrea
Writer

Timeline for implementation

October 2020

Animal Jam Eco-System

The Animal Jam Eco-System will give players a fun and exciting new way to interact with the content in their Dens.

At its release, 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.

WildWorks is excited to participate in the Play for the Planet initiative because it is important to use our platform to educate our youthful player base on the value of renewable energy. We learned that environmental sustainability is something that can easily be taught through a series of fun and engaging activities.

WildWorks’ next steps are to refine and expand the renewable energy system to keep it fresh, fun, and educational for all players of the Animal Jam community!

Jeff Byers
Lead Designer on Animal Jam Classic

Timeline for implementation

Already implemented

Golf Clash

Our goal is to systemise the education and activation of millions of mobile gamers, whether they are climate-change believing, passive or denying.

We accept that not all gamers have the same view on climate change, and many are bombarded on a daily basis by negative and false views on the reality of climate change. These negative views are often disseminated by conservative media and news channels, or shared by friends and contacts within their social graphs.

We aim to develop game agnostic technology that allows us to deliver incentivised content on the topic of climate change and sustainability. By segmenting the audience through an initial survey, we will choose the most effective content for them depending on their stance on climate change. We believe this is the best way to keep players engaged in the conversation on climate change and to seek out positive outcomes.

The types of content we will deliver through the service is wide-ranging;

Educational video content, for example; exploring climate change effects in the player’s own country, learning about the effect of carbon in the atmosphere, teaching how we know the human effect of climate change is real.

Educate through playable content; Just like playable ads, we allow gamers to play short-form interactive content that helps them understand climate change causes and effects.Interactivity gives wider context to models and therefore should be of higher educational value, as users can draw their own conclusions.

Rewarded sign-up; encourage players to join climate change programs and movements such as ‘Meat-Free-Mondays’, or sign-up for green energy suppliers.

The team at Playdemic will prove their tech within our own title, Golf Clash, as a first step on this journey.

We felt compelled to act when invited to participate; climate change will ultimately affect us all and is simply too important to ignore. And we’re in a position to help; the ubiquity of mobile games represent an unusually effective way to communicate to people across the whole of society. When an opportunity comes round to act and do something about it, how can you possibly sit back and say no?

Alex Rigby
Chief Creative Officer

Timeline for implementation

Q4 2020

Zoocraft: Animal Family

Zoo Craft: Animal Family launched as a zoo management game four year ago.

Inspired by joining Playing for the Planet in 2019, we pivoted away from a conventional tycoon game to focus on restoring animal diversity.  Our first step was to update the introductory sequence, setting the scene, explaining the events that caused the crisis and setting the player’s goal to rebuild the ecosystem.

The core gameplay and regular events now encompass:

  • caring for and breeding animals
  • conservation of rare species
  • cleaning places where animals leave
  • restoration of habitats

 

We run live operations focused on environmental themes.  Our Winter Holiday 2019 event was about cleaning up an island endangered by reckless manufacturing of Christmas toys. We relied on familiar play mechanics and retained the festive spirit while telling a story about real-world problems. We also added numerous small touches, such as designating the only aircraft in the game as solar-powered. 

To support Ocean Day we created a storyline which got across  the importance of conserving the world’s ocean and its fauna.  We added special decorations so players could turn their zoo into different environments, such as the North Pole, and better understand the world in which we live.

In the Green Game Jam we described how our next effort was a special event and fundraiser for the Wolf Conservation Trust.  The Wolf Conservation Center teaches people about wolves, their relationship to the environment and the human role in protecting their future.

The event ran in late May, 2020 and by the 4th of June 1,500 players had paid to support it, raising $14,410 for the Wolf Conservation Centre.  We received a lot of positive feedback on social networks and we were able to convey the idea of the importance of animal care and supporting the charity.

Creative Mobile decided to join the Play for the Planet alliance because while the problem is global it’s everyone’s job to get things done.  That means it’s our problem too, so we own the outcome and we need to act.  The response to our communication efforts in Zoocraft: Animal Family and in particular the Wolf Conservation Trust event showed us that our player base is with us and we intend to do more to help enable them to address the problems we all face.

Vladimir Funtikov
CEO

Timeline for implementation

Already implemented

Hungry Shark World

Hungry Shark World is shining a light on melting polar ice with a new game update; Extinction Arctic full of exclusive content.

Set in Hungry Shark World, 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.

Tropical species of fish and sea life make their way into the once chilled and iceberg-rich Arctic level. As a Hungry Shark, players complete various objectives from eating certain fish species to swimming some distances. With this new mode, players will be able to re-freeze melting ice to fight off the corrupt humans invading their under-water world!

In the pure eat ‘em all style of Hungry Shark, the main objective is to survive. By doing so players will be able to earn pearls and access new content, including a brand-new shark character; guaranteeing player engagement.

The partner of this Arctic Extinction update will participate actively by rewarding players a few numbers of tickets to enter the new level. Additionally, we will promote the partner’s digital presence and campaigns via in-game advertising.

Environmental causes are very impactful to everyone and you can see the effects it has on everyday life. We as a studio have a unique game and platform to elucidate on some issues that might usually get overlooked. In terms of global impact the oceans are most of our planet, so we have a unique position to shed some light on issues our seas (which is again…you know…most of our planet) are currently suffering from.

Researching these issues made me more aware of the danger facing our oceans, but also the incredible lengths people go to in order to maintain it. From trying to repopulate dying coral reefs to ice wall building robots, there are a wild variety of solutions that require high amounts of creative thinking.

We hope to implement these features in our game, and by making the gameplay relevant we want the game to be subtly educational by giving players appropriate actions and rewarding their efforts with environmental change and prosperity.

Kaile Walker

Timeline for implementation

April 2021

Belote.com

The passion for creating high-quality games and the focus on superior customer experience have made GameDuell one of Europe's most experienced games studios.

Founded in 2003, with almost two decades of success in the online world, GameDuell offers a broad portfolio of over 70 multiplayer titles on the popular game site www.GameDuell.com as well as on social networks and mobile devices.

With more than 130 million registered players across all platforms and with a great international team consisting of 130 game enthusiasts working in a culture of fun, openness, and high performance, GameDuell strives to bring people together to have a good time with games. We are an ecological and socially sustainable company. We have our very own “Green Team” within the company which implements ideas and initiatives to help protect our environment and for charity.

As an environmentally conscious thinking company, we are happy to be part of the Green Mobile Game Jam and contribute to the initiative. With our pitch, we would like to inform our active players about the main climate change issues, such as: renewable energy, waste, mass consumption, industrial mass farming, and CO2 emissions. We want to convince the users to take action, e.g. separating more waste or switching to an eco-friendly energy provider.

The idea is to show a daily trivia quiz over the course of a certain period with 2-3 questions about environmental topics to educate and activate our users. In order to keep the participants motivated, we incentivize participation and keep it on a personal level and be concise rather than abstract.

The answers might surprise users, so they start reflecting on their own situation and on changing their behaviour, and then go on to share their learnings with others.

We participated because we are an ecological and socially sustainable company and want to make our customers part of our climate action and further raise awareness why this is necessary. The Green Mobile Game Jam is an ideal platform because the Playing for the Planet initiative has built a committed and dedicated community, within which we can share knowledge, learn from each other, and collaborate. We learned that there are many different possible approaches and great creative minds involved and that environmental protection can be fun and rewarding. The next steps will be: finalize and select the questions and answers that are shown to the players and to align the timeline.

GameDuell
Green Jam participant

Timeline for implementation

August 2020

So how did we do?

The result of the 2020 Green Game Jam surpassed every single one of our expectations.  

First, we got eleven major mobile gaming companies with a combined reach of 250 million monthly active users to get their sleeves up at very short notice (and with COVID-19 disrupting many of the studios).

Then, we developed a jam process whereby the game activations were informed and inspired by some of the best scientists and thinkers on the biggest environmental themes of our time.

During the jam, companies that normally compete with each other collaborated and learnt from each other. The winners were then voted by the Game Jam participants who also provided feedback on how they think studios could improve on their ideas.

But what matters most is turning the ideas into action and, all of the members have agreed to integrate their activations into their games in the next 12 months, as well as signing up to get involved next year.

Next year we want to make it bigger and better than ever and have activations that could reach 1 billion people. Help us make that happen, drop us a note to find out more today.

Who won

Winner of the Jam

This award was chosen by all of those who participated in the Green Game Jam. Playdemic was chosen as a winner for the willingness to tackle a potentially controversial subject, climate change, with their audience, as well as their clear, well-thought-out approach.

Winner of Most Adoptable

The participants praised MAG Interactive’s and TreesPlease Games reforestation concept for its scalability, reach and the potential for amplifying impact. Both Playdemic and MAG were commended for finding creative ways of collaborating with the industry outside of their own pitch.

UNEP Favourite

Wildworks was chosen as the UNEP favorite. Wildworks covered a range of environmental issues from reforestation to renewable energy, authentically integrated into the game. Moreover, their game Animal Jam has a significant reach.

First to Market

The award for 'First to Market' goes to Creative Mobile for their Wolf Conservation Trust event in Zoocraft: Animal Family, which launched in June of this year. Creative Mobile continues to release green events regularly.

A huge thank you

A huge thank you to all of our incredible mentors for this project: Niklas Hagelberg(Coordinator, UN Environment’s subprogramme on Climate Change); Michael Mobbs(Sustainability Consultant, ‘Off Grid Guy’); Tim Christophersen(Head of Nature for Climate Branch, UN Environment); Maxim Mai(Head of Social Impact and Accessibility Partnerships, GooglePlay); Mark Radka(Head, Energy and Climate Division, UN Environment); Dr. Folaranmi(Fola) Dapo Babalola(Senior Lecturer, Forest Resources Management, University of Ilorin, Nigeria); Brooke Tully(Trainer & Consultant in Behaviour Change Marketing); Gautam Shah(Founder, Internet of Elephants); Attila Szantner(Co-Founder, CEO, MMOS (Massively Multiplayer Online Science)).

So what happens next?

The aim for this initiative is to establish the Green Game Jam as a key industry moment in the year. We hope to scale up to reach 1 billion gamers by bringing in new mobile studios as well as branching out to other platforms. The next jam will be held in Spring 2021. We’d love for you to join us.

Get in touch

If you want to get in touch or join the jame in 2021, then drop us a note siiri.maekelae@un.org