Back in January CEO of Matchmade Jiri Kupiainen and GamesForest.Club's Maria Wagner set off from their home town of Berlin to spread a message of sustainability, visiting games studios across Europe, getting their take on the changes they're making and all the while travelling sustainably to prove what can be done.
We followed them week by week - click here to see the series in full - as Jiri documented their travels with exclusive video interviews with the big-name studios they visited along the way.
Their message is a simple one. Unless we all get smarter about the necessity and logistics of our business travel, the global turnaround in CO2 production that we're all praying for isn't going to happen.
And while the 10 week mission is now over, there's still much to learn and share. Here, with the duo back home in Berlin, Jiri documents the final leg of their journey with part one of their visit to Helsinki, the "capital of mobile gaming", featuring Pengfei Zhang of Yahaha.
Jiri Kupiainen: The link between mental space and physical space is inescapable. We’ve now been back in Berlin for two weeks, and there’s a strong natural pull to just revert back to who we were before the 10 weeks journey started, and to start forgetting about all the discussions and adventures we had. I took last week off to deal with a stack of letters from the German tax office (and a bunch of other things) that had accumulated in my absence, and going back to continue editing the series this week was a shock. Wait, that was a real thing that happened?
Editing the episodes from the comfort of my home office will very likely affect the kind of content that makes it to the remaining episodes of the show. When editing on the road, including any kind of travel content and fun stuff seemed unnecessary - this is everyday life, who wants to see it! But now it suddenly feels exotic and exciting, and as a result half of the new episode (below) is us making a hole in the ice, going to sauna and ice swimming. Remains to be seen whether this is what the games industry wants to see from our little YouTube show…
But the main content of this - the first part of our episode from Helsinki - is an interview with Pengfei Zhang, the co-founder of Yahaha.
He was there for the growth of Unity’s ad business, and sits in a unique vantage point between Helsinki and Shanghai. I’m very happy to kick the Helsinki interviews off with the point of view of someone who’s a key player in the scene, yet who view it through a different cultural lens - which is unfortunately still not that common in the Finnish games industry. We also talk a lot about making game development accessible to everyone in the world in the way TikTok has made video creation accessible, and how AI will help with that. All in all, it's a fascinating discussion.
The bigger discussion that we hope to kick off with this series is of course the role our industry will and can play in fighting climate change.
It’s hard to escape the sense that most thought leaders in the industry today think it’s probably enough to recycle, to be open to bringing some environmental themes into games, and to work with Playing for the Planet.
As everyone who is paying attention knows, the right answer to “what is the right thing to do” is “everything” - everything counts and everything that can be done, must be done. But I can’t shake the feeling that we’re barely scratching the surface of what our 400 billion dollar industry that reaches half the planet’s population could do.
So, from next week onwards, I’ll focus on trying to find better answers to that.