It is hot! I don’t just mean I’m sweating while my window air conditioner does its best to blow cool air into my home; I mean it’s historically hot. Last month was the warmest June ever in North America. This week is in honor of the increasingly agonizing heat death of the planet Split screen Podcast it’s about hot things.
To start the episode, Ash Parrish, Mike Fahey, and I talk about our most popular and least preferred levels of fire in games, including Asphodel by Hades, Hot top volcano of Diddy Kong Racing, and this one stretch of road in Red Dead Redemption 2 where horses burn spontaneously. We also get controversial: Fahey says that vanilla World of Warcraft ‘The Molten Core raid was actually bad, and I claim Norfair from Great metroid is good, but the norfair level in Smash bros is bad.
Then we come to an easier topic: climate change. We discuss both games about climate change and industry efforts to contain it. Suffice it to say the industry could do a much, much better job. Maybe it can still do that, but there isn’t much time left.
We wrap up the episode with hot takes on hot topics, leading to Fahey ranting about how fighting game characters who use or get hit by fire should be permanently burned and hairless. The true final frontier of video game realism.
Get the MP3 Here and view an excerpt below.
Nathan: Games themselves – the game industry as a whole – are quite frankly polluting. In 2019 you had many companies undertake to change their ways on that front. Important examples are Sony and Microsoft, both of which will either become CO2-negative by 2050 and 2030 or do not want to leave an ecological footprint. And it’s like, cool. Do you want a cookie
Fahey: Let me tell you right away that I want to be completely carbon negative by 2062.
Nathan: I plan to go carbon negative in 60 years by dying.
Ash: I plan to go carbon negative by telling my partner – whoever it is – to compost me. Send me to one of those Portland mortuary farms. Turn me into dirt
Nathan: Let’s go, we have our plans. But yes, that arises from several perspectives. On the one hand, game consoles are power-intensive. A single console draws much like a refrigerator – a much larger device. But then on top of that, to quote a Kotaku Article from 2019: “Game consoles are based on minerals that are mined using techniques that can leave behind poisonous water. Hardware factories produce huge amounts of energy and chemicals. Deliveries of consoles and games depend on globally networked supply chains, which in turn depend on fuel for planes and trucks. PC gamers every year to use 75 billion kilowatt hours of electricity—25 power plants worth. “
Ash: Which doesn’t even begin to appeal to the people who use their PCs for Bitcoin mining.
Nathan: Bingo. And that’s the other side of it, isn’t it? They also have persistent chip shortages, likely at least in part a by-product of cryptocurrency mining and a desire for ever better cards. But the better you do these things, the more energy you need to make them because you have to put more and more transistors on semiconductors. As a result, even as businesses reduce energy usage and technology becomes more efficient, you still have that incremental curve of energy usage to increase all of these things over time.
In addition, cloud gaming is becoming increasingly popular. You’d think that’s a good thing because you don’t have that many home electronics. The problem is that cloud gaming, as it currently exists, currently uses more power than local options. Of a 2020 Wired
That’s good, but here too these companies have very long-term goals. Another important problem with this is that there really isn’t anyone who is meaningfully holding you accountable on this front except yourself. Will you do it? If it’s a high priority for them, yes. But there is no good way of knowing. We will see. 2030 and 2050 are many years away.
Again, it goes back to the push and pull between people saying you should cut your own carbon footprint, and it doesn’t really dent unless big companies and industries massively cut their own energy usage.
Fahey: So we’re screwed. But at least they’re not just saying, “Fuck you guys. We’ll make all the money, and when we’re done we’ll try to make some more while you’re still alive. ”We can have a positive outlook, but I don’t trust any company that says anything about global warming is much more than a message.
Nathan: You don’t even trust Ubisoft, whose commitment in 2019 was to “develop green themes in the game and source materials from environmentally friendly factories”?
Fahey: Have you already done that a lot? Is that a big deal? Do we recycle in? Assassin’s Creed
Ash: How much electricity does one of these wayback machines need to run? The animus?
Nathan: Well, they are still there in this future. You didn’t die in a terrible flame. So you must have figured out something.
Fahey: You can’t absorb too much force. They lead you out of a cave. Maybe they are powered by natural stone.
Ash: Poop. Maybe it comes from human waste. You have a system in Water world where Kevin Costner pees in a cup, and it goes through a couple of pumps and turns into potable water.
Fahey: I mean, the lesson from global warming is that the post-apocalyptic games are now less about zombies and nuclear wars and more about-
Ash: Nuclear winter.
Fahey: We fucked the planet!
Nathan: I think the other realization is that while it is easy to give way in despair and hopelessness, what can we do in the face of all these companies that care about nothing but their bottom line, the only people who can hold them accountable, are the spectators. That means, even if it sucks and it means more work for all of us, you are putting pressure on the companies. Ask what all these environmental initiatives are all about and why they are not moving faster with them. Not least because it was probably done in the name of optics in the first place, if it turns out to be bad optics for them, they have a reason to go ahead and do better.
Ash: If that fails, take the guillotines.
For all of that and more, check out the episode. New episodes appear every Friday, so don’t forget to like and subscribe Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or stapler. If you feel like doing so, leave a review too, and you can always send us a message at [email protected] if you have any questions or suggest a topic. If you want to yell at us directly, you can reach us on Twitter: Ash is @adashtra, Fahey is @OnkelFahey, and Nathan is @ Vahn16. We meet next week!