Sustainability in computing is a rising issue within the industry which means its impacts and concerns also coincide with the video games industry.
With the ever rising use of personal computers, laptops and similar devices, problems arise when consumers desire newer machines or updated tech, especially due to the rapid advancements made by hardware manufacturers, and tend to dispose of their older computer. The sheer bulk of computers means that illegal dumping of electronics has become a big problem, with some hardware like older monitors containing harmful materials like mercury. Africa is usually the target of the e-waste and ends up creating huge ‘electronic graveyards’ with mountains of old electronics being left there, which has huge environmental impacts since most computer parts do not contain biodegradable material and as mentioned before, can potentially contain harmful materials.
Another point that concerns sustainability is the aforementioned technological advancement of hardware for computer systems. Though this point doesn’t concern general consumer PC’s to a large degree, it affects the rising market of PC gaming, as the system performance requirements to play the newest titles is climbing. With this demand, companies like AMD and Nvidia are pushing higher end components like CPU’s and dedicated graphics cards to fulfil the needs of the consumers. The problem with this new hardware is the increasing power demand of the systems that use the new technology, in 2015 the high-end GTX 980Ti had a power draw of 375 Watts, now in 2020 with the release of the RTX 3080, similar calibur hardware is now requesting a 750 Watt power supply to handle the hardware. If progress rates stay similar, then 1000 watt demands may become mainstream for high-end gaming within a few years which would put increased strain on power networks.
The final topic for sustainability that I will discuss is online servers and their impact on the environment. In a study from 2009, the Google servers release around 0.2g of carbon dioxide per search (Src: https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/01/powering-google-search.html), though it may not seem much, the high use of the service means that it can soon add-up.
Using this infographic, each minute, Google searches add up to 820kg of carbon dioxide release, which is a huge amount. This data also concerns the gaming industry with its high player numbers on multiplayer games and servicies which also use more bandwidth than a standard Google search. Huge online games like Fortnite have thousands of players online at once wich means that server demand must match the players which plays into the previously mentioned power consumption but also the carbon dioxide release from server algorithms, meaning that the rise in multiplayer games is having an effect on the environment and global warming.