“When Everyone Reduces Emissions, Everyone on the Planet Wins” – Explaining Xbox’s New Game Development Sustainability Tools

Xbox’s Director of Gaming Sustainability, Trista Patterson, joined the Xbox Podcast this week with a very clear message: 

“Gaming sustainability is something that Xbox is very proud of, and making big strides in. But, with climate [change], you can’t beat your competitor at it. You have to compete against your own best self in every category. And just like we’re saying, ‘When everyone plays, everyone wins,’ the same goes for, ‘When everyone reduces energy and emissions, everyone on the planet wins.’ No doubt about it.” 

Appearing on the podcast following Xbox’s announcement of a new suite of developer tools designed to reduce energy use and emissions through game code, Patterson explained how she and her team have been making ground-breaking strides to help the entire industry apply more sustainable thinking, and to “create powerful good using the gaming industry” 

It’s not been a simple task. “For a long time, the industry has maintained that there’s no gains to be found in greening game code,” Patterson explained. “And that’s because there’s an enormous complexity between the hardware, the software, the electrical and other engineering, the design, and then the game code itself that creates the power that is required in order to create the gaming experience.” 

“Broadly considered, the industry decided that this was a completely intractable problem – in fact, within the UN’s Playing for the Planet Alliance, it was considered even as of a month ago to be an impossible problem to solve.” 

The solution to that seemingly impossible problem was to create resources for developers to identify ‘Energy Bugs’ – previously invisible problems created by coding that can unintentionally use more power than needed – at source, and fix them quickly. While Xbox has already taken strides to reduce power usage in consoles themselves, this new effort will aid developers in reducing power consumption caused by the games you play on them. 

“You can have fun breaking things in a game. And right now we’re not having fun breaking the planet. Let’s have fun fixing it.”

At GDC, Xbox announced the rollout of a new Developer Sustainability Toolkit, a power monitoring system, certification reports, power consumption dashboards, guides, case studies, and a pilot program that offers specialist assistance to game devs looking to work on their games’ energy consumption. The goal is to, “precision engineer the visual and analytical feedback that is needed for game developers to make changes to their code that will allow them to reduce energy consumption on the consoles in the living room of every gamer in the world.” 

That openness, that this isn’t only applicable to the Xbox platform, is key here: “The thing that I find really remarkable is that when a studio sees what a no-brainer it is to fix so many of these Energy Bugs, they fix them in a way that is not just reducing emissions on the Xbox console platform, but they’re instituting [them] to the entire game code. And that game code then gets released to almost every other platform that they are releasing to in the future.” 

The work won’t stop with Xbox developers, either: “We are empowering and inviting the rest of the industry to use these insights, these case studies, these tools, and also inspire their own investigations in order to be able to create impact, no matter how small or large their gaming studio is.” 

The overall goal here is to make the enormous size of the games industry not a problem for sustainability, but a part of the solution – and making use of the inherent positivity of that creative space: 

“In the environmental field, things are going haywire right and left. It’s a depressing field. If society focuses on everything going wrong all the time, and we’re encountering stories of loss and destruction, it’s true that statistically there are many challenges in front of us, but gaming opens up all of this remarkable, creative problem solving… You can have fun breaking things in a game. And right now we’re not having fun breaking the planet. Let’s have fun fixing it.” 

[This article originally appeared on Xbox Wire]

Xbox Wire

Posts by this account are syndicated from Xbox Wire.

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