As developer, we’re going to have to start considering which companies we work for. Are they producing games in a sustainable way? Where do they buy electricity? How are servers for multiplayer games set up? Which countries do they host servers in? Does the company mindfully recycle technology and old computers? Does it box games or does it only offer digital downloads?
That’s just the start.
Being mindful of class, status, equipment requirements, the way we distribute games – so many things – should inform us when we apply and look for jobs, especially in the technology sector.
Saying no to a game company that uses Web3 or blockchain technology is easy. It’s already known that those technologies are not great for the environment. But what about games that have to be played on high end PCs or consoles? Do we know the environmental impact of each machine that we hope our players use when playing our games? Do we know the environmental cost of keeping our PCs constantly running in order to be accessible for working from home?
Do we know the social impact of the technology sector hiring outsourcing companies in the Baltic states or Russia or just about any Asian country where labour is cheaper than in Europe and North America?
Do we consider how it affects the status of women and girls in those countries or for that matter, in our countries?
I think the time should have come a long time ago to look at sustainable development and studio impact on the world, but I do know that it is starting now.
Ethics in game development shouldn’t just be about dark UX patterns, sexist, racist content, sexist, racist hiring practices and the practice of burning people out because it’s considered cheaper than not.
Everything is deeply connected. We have to start seeing that and taking that into account. A big burden for an individual you say? I agree. This is a systematic issue and it requires a systematic shift. Just as the clothes industry has been taken to task around child labor, chemical waste, pollution nd the lack of sustainable production of clothes, maybe the tech industry needs to be shaken up in a similar manner.
I think younger generations are already there and onboard. The question is if this is yet another one of those areas that the dudebro culture in game development is going to ignore and consider beneath them, just like processes, frameworks, diversity and inclusion.