View Full Version : Gaming, the Third World, and the Environment

07-04-2010, 12:48 PM
I just read this on Kotaku, and thought it was pretty interesting. A lot of people don't want to hear or think about this stuff (or labor issues, like with Apple and the Foxconn situation), but it's an important issue, I think.

The Inconvenient Truth Of Buying Video Games?

Each year Greenpeace releases a guide that rates how "green" different consumer electronics, including video game consoles, and their parent companies are, based on, among other things, the chemicals used in the products and the energy consumption of an item.

"Gamers who are concerned about toxics leaching to water supplies and causing troubled pregnancies and other health defects should care," said Daniel Kessler, communications manager for Greenpeace International. "We believe that manufacturers of electronic goods, who have benefited from sales of their products, should take responsibility for them from production through to the end of their lives. To prevent an e-waste crisis, manufacturers must design clean electronics with longer lifespan, that are safe and easy to recycle and will not expose workers and the environment to hazardous chemicals."

Kessler says that Nintendo remains in last place in their annual guide, though the company has shown some improvements.

Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity tracks the use of certain minerals, like tin, tatalum, tungsten and gold, that can be mined in the Congo and used to help fund the war there. Some of these minerals are found in a variety electronics including video game consoles.

"We're accustomed to not asking too many questions about where our video games and other belongings come from," said David Sullivan, policy manager for Enough. "But given that we could be indirectly financing some of the worst human rights abuses in the world via our purchases of these products, I think most consumers would want to be able to choose not to support those kinds of things."

The issue with tracking the use of these minerals, though, is that they are processed at facilities, mostly located in Asia, where they blend together with minerals from all around the world. So Enough is asking companies to try and keep these minerals out of their products.

"Microsoft and Sony are both part of an industry group that is working to create a system to deal with conflict tantalum," Sullivan said. "Nintendo is not part of this group."

Nintendo didn't provide a comment for this article, but has said in the past that they ask that their supplies comply with the company's corporate social responsibility guidelines.

Professor Louviere says that international research conducted by his center found that "many consumers are willing to pay small, but significant premiums to choose products that are not environmentally harmful and/or that have environmental benefits."

"The middle ground is for all consumers to understand that climate change and environmental degradation are real, they are not going to go away, and unless we all do something about it, they will only get worse going forward," Louviere said.