Helmed by Super Evil Megacorp CEO Kristian Segerstrale, the initiative aims to leverage the games industry's immense popularity to combat global warming.
This week, Kristian Segerstrale, CEO of Vainglory developer Super Evil Megacorp, announced Game Founders for Climate 2021, an initiative aimed at combating climate change via a handful of partnerships. As part of the enterprise, Segerstrale is teaming up with Supercell co-founder Mikko Kodisoja, Noice CEO Jussi Laakkonen, and Kabam founder Kevin Chou among others to establish a fundraiserthat will benefit climate-forward charity organizations.
The primary partner for Game Founders for Climate is Founders Pledge, an entrepreneurial group that serves as a sort of liaison for a number of nonprofits. Segerstrale and his cohorts have set a goal of raising $500,000, which Founders Pledge will then match and distribute to its network of environmental charities. The ultimate target, Segerstrale said, is to eventually raise $1 million donated by July 1, which is when the campaign will end. As of this writing, Founders Plege has distributed donations brought in by the initiative to organizations like TerraPraxis, Clean Air Task Force, and Carbon180.
“I chose to partner with Founders Pledge as part of attempting to leverage my grant as far as possible, and to provide maximum advocacy as part of it,” Segerstrale told GameDaily. “They both helped think through both the structuring of it as well as handle the operations behind the scenes. And they have an awesome community of founders who have been super supportive.”
For Segerstrale, the timing of the initiative is important. Climate change is always a topical issue, but it has taken on increased importance over the last year.
“This year we're living through a particularly pivotal time with major decisions being made in terms of how we build back after the pandemic,” he explained.
In an effort to maximize his impact, Segerstrale reached out to a core group of developers who have “benefited from the rapid growth of games.” These are people who, over the last two decades, have been savvy enough to take advantage of the industry’s explosion in popularity. These are professionals who have become influential in the business and have proven their entrepreneurship--qualities embodied by Kodisoja, Laakonen, and Chou.
“I was really humbled that Mikko, Jussi and Kevin decided to step up and lead by example as part of this campaign,” Segerstrale said. “For me it's not just about the dollars raised. I want to reach the $1 million target we set ourselves--but it's even more important to me that I found people willing to advocate and inspire others to think about how they can contribute also. Hopefully as part of this campaign, but if not, then part of other ways to give back in the future.”
For David Goldberg, co-founder and CEO of Founders Pledge, Segerstrale’s initiative highlights the charitable potential of the games industry, particularly during the upsurge it has seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With so many people stuck at home during the pandemic, many games companies have seen incredible success in recent months, making industry leaders very well positioned to give back,” Goldberg told GameDaily. “They are also in a unique position to raise awareness of global issues like climate change and encourage contributions to impactful charities among their millions of fans.”
When you think of global warming, the games business isn’t necessarily the first industry that comes to mind, but it does contribute in some surprising ways. According to a 2020 report from The Verge, the games industry is a leading producer of petroleum-based hardware, and device usage consumes an estimated 34 terawatt-hours of energy every year. Overall drops in carbon emissions amid pandemic quarantine efforts have also highlighted the industry’s penchant for air travel and other polluting methods of transportation.
It’s a reality that Sgerstrale has acknowledged, but he remains optimistic about recent efforts to combat the environmental impact of the video game industry.
“I think initiatives like UN's Playing for the Planet that explore things that we as a game industry can do to combat climate change--by being greener in how we operate and provide advocacy for the cause- are really great. We at Super Evil Megacorp have applied to be part of that too,” he said.
Goldberg said that Founders Pledge has seen an uptick in charity efforts from the games industry. While they’re not all necessarily focused on climate change, the overall number of fundraising initiatives has been on the rise in recent years. As the most popular entertainment medium in the world, video games command an enormous audience, putting it in a strong position for philanthropic measures.
For Segerstrale, Founders Pledge is an ideal partner thanks to the expertise demonstrated by the organization in the six years since its founding.
“They have a great research team that is great at finding places where they can have the biggest situational impact on carbon emissions and carbon capture at any one time,” he said. “As a company builder, I have learned that talent, timing, and leverage matters. And by backing the exceptional team at The Founders Pledge Climate Fund I can make one donation that I know will be deployed toward emissions reduction and carbon capture in a way that has situationally most effectively globally.”
It’s not just Founders Pledge that Segerstrale is partnering with for Game Founders for Climate, though; he has also enlisted SilverLining, an international organization dedicated to combating global warming. Segerstrale is utilizing an 80/20 split for his initiative, with 80% of the donations going to Founders Pledge and SilverLining receiving the remaining 20%.
“As an entrepreneur I’ve learned the hard way how important it is to have a plan B in case plan A fails,” he explained. “SilverLining has a DARPA-like model promoting research into upper atmosphere modeling, solar radiation management, marine cloud brightening and other ‘last resort’ actions for use as a temporary measure to cool the climate in case--despite our best efforts on emissions reduction--we hit some unforeseen tipping point and need more time to avoid catastrophic climate change.”
Beyond working with both Founders Pledge and SilverLinings, Segerstrale said he’ll be spamming his social media accounts and advocating for the climate at various conferences and during podcast appearances during the length of the initiative.
With a goal of raising $1 million by July 1, Segerstrale and company certainly have their work cut out for them. It’s impossible to deny his enthusiasm for Game Founders for Climate 2021, however, and his passion for climate advocacy is readily apparent. It will be interesting to track the progress of the initiative and its potential impact on the rest of the industry. Hopefully Game Founders for Climate can inspire further philanthropic endeavours.
For his part, Segerstrale said that he’s far from done advocating.
“My goals are to exceed the $1 million target raised, to hopefully inspire others to take action, and to create key lessons for myself about impact during this campaign so I can have an even bigger impact in the next thing I do.”
You can donate to the cause here.
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