A few weeks ago, I was one among many who had the privilege of watching the brilliantly candid discussion – as filmed by the BBC – between our very own national treasure, Sir David Attenborough and the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.
During the 35-minute back and forth they spoke to their admiration for one another, their mutual passion for nature, and the steps current and future generations must take in order to help protect our planet.
Part way through their discussion the topic turned towards getting children away from their computer screen and getting ‘back to nature’. This is so they could enjoy all of the delights the great outdoors affords whilst obtaining a certain amount of empathy towards the ongoing struggles the planet is facing; such as global warming, deforestation and overpopulation.
Sir David took some time to marvel at the diverse nature of America’s landscape, remarking on the glaciers in Alaska and Yosemite National Park in California.
The President then took the opportunity to state: “What we’ve been doing is trying to initiate ways to get more children and young people to use the parks. And as you’ve said, so many of these kids are growing up cut off, they’re sitting on the couch, they’re playing video games. If they experience nature, it’s through a television screen. Just getting them out there so that they’re picking up that rock and finding that slug, they’re seeing that, that bird with colours that they haven’t seen before”.
Now as a sentiment I fully agree. Going outside to enjoy the natural beauty this planet offers on a daily basis is a must. And like the USA, Britain is fortunate enough to have some fantastic National Parks of its own, all of which should be visited and enjoyed. However I did come away feeling like there was an unspoken truth within that statement.
Video games are playing an increasingly active role in supplying much needed education and raising vital funds to help mitigate and overcome the dangers that threaten our planet.
Supporting good causes
For example, Humble Bundle has given over $50m to date to various charities around the globe. The money donated has specifically gone towards helping people with disabilities enjoy games, providing emergency medical aid, funding healthcare, purchasing books for schools in Africa, providing clean water to developing countries and much more.
One of the many beneficiaries of Humble Bundle’s fundraising has been the World Land Trust, an International Conservation Charity, who have received over £385,000 in donations since May 2012.
Sir David Attenborough himself was quoted at a lecture in January 2012 stating: “The money that is given to the World Land Trust, in my estimation, has more effect on the wild world than almost anything I can think of”.
Whilst this quote is not in direct relation to Humble Bundle’s donation, it does clearly highlight that money raised by the industry is being distributed to vital conservation areas.
In November 2014, Rovio partnered with United for Wildlife to raise awareness of illegal poaching. A tournament was added to Angry Birds Friends. In January 2015, EA undertook a multi-game campaign with the international charity WWF to raise awareness and funds for endangered species and conservation. It raised $117,919.
These are a few examples of how the industry has applied its vast influence for the greater good of our planet. Whilst I agree that getting kids ‘back to nature’ is a good thing, I don’t think that the time playing games is bad.