PCGames Hardware

Gamescom 2019: How environmentally friendly is gaming? - Findings from science


Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

22.08.2019 at 11:41 am by Claus Ludewig

Together with colleagues, the scientist Norm Bourassa has investigated how much electricity certain games and hardware require and what this means for the environment. At the Gamescom Congress, he presented his findings and spoke in an interview with Der Spiegel about how to play more environmentally friendly games.

The scientists Norm Bourassa and Evan Mills of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center analyzed in the study entitled Green Gaming Energy Efficiency without Performance Compromise how environmentally friendly it is to play video games. The findings were presented by Norm Bourassea and Evan Mills at the Gamescom Congress and discussed the environmental impact of video gaming in an interview with Der Spiegel. Energy saving tips are collected on their own website, Greening the Beast. All the advice will be given under the motto "Save xx US dollars". After all, most consumers would still look first at their wallets and then at their environmental balance sheets.

But the quality of the gaming experience is also important for gamers. Nobody wants to play a jerky game. Mills gives an important tip at the same time: Always switch off the game system completely when not in use.

Use system suitable for player type

According to Bourassa, there are advantages to using a system that suits your type of player. Players who are less concerned with the look of a game title should use either a mid-range PC or a console. On the one hand, this would save money and reduce energy consumption. As an example, the role-playing game Skyrim is listed. It is available on all major platforms - PCs and consoles. Depending on the system, however, the power consumption increases more than 20 times if you use a high-end desktop PC instead of a console.

Check and adjust settings

The correct graphic settings also influence the power consumption. For example, there is software that varies the numbers of frames per second depending on the real-time action-level, as otherwise considerably more power is consumed, says Mills. For example, AMD offers a function called Chill for the graphics card driver. His colleague Bourassa considers the screensaver on consoles a waste of energy. Game titles should have a memory button that can be called up at any time, so that a device can also be shut down if one wants to eat something and actually switches to the pause menu, only not to lose the progress of the game.

Appeal to developers and industry

The current gaming hardware is becoming more efficient, which per se is a good sign for both the electricity bill and environmental protection. However, the developers should place more emphasis on energy-saving settings when programming in the future, according to the scientists. The industry itself could label games that have particularly high power consumption. It doesn't always have to be a graphically complex game that results in increased electricity consumption. Even a game title like the Sims, which is frugal in terms of system requirements, can consume a lot of energy, since it is a simulation that you play for a relatively long time.

Cloud gaming as a power guzzler

A lot of electricity is used for cloud game services such as Google Stadia. As is well known, the entire calculation runs in Google's data centers, so power consumption easily doubles compared to a purely locally hosted game. The higher the energy demand, the worse the environmental balance. What the researchers exclude, however, is the fact that the servers of large IT companies are already running around the clock and the operators are endeavouring to use solar power and other green energies in particular. Using electricity from renewable sources is something that each individual gamer can do himself, provided that the electricity provider offers appropriate tariffs and his own wallet allows this leeway.

Facts about green gaming:

    • The two scientists from the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center analyzed how environmentally friendly gaming is in a study.

    • According to the recommendation, gamers should always use a system that matches their requirements. If you don't game in 4K resolution, a mid-range PC or a console like the Xbox One S is enough. The choice of the right system is also decisive for power consumption and thus ultimately for environmental protection.

    • A terminal device - no matter if PC or game console - should always be shut down completely if not used for a longer period of time, this saves a lot of electricity and therefore also money.

    • In addition, players should adapt the graphics settings to their system and needs of the particular game After all, a PC would have to work unnecessarily hard just to display a high framerate if the benefits were not perceptible by the user. At least that's the opinion of Bourassa and Mills.

Development of electricity consumption in California. Green Gaming Study EPC 15 023 (Lawrence Berkeley National Lab)