Gaming for good with Oded Ilani: An interview

Sustainable gaming

Gaming for good is a wave in the industry that is increasingly growing, particularly in the past 3 years. We are seeing more and more gaming studios interested in incorporating a sustainable business model into their games, but many studios also face several challenges when trying to hop on the wave. “Where do we start?” “How can we make sure it’s not greenwashing?” “How do we manage our budgets when incorporating sustainability?” These are some of the questions we’ve come across throughout the years. So we thought, why don’t we bring in a person who is extremely passionate about not just gaming, but also it’s intersection with sustainability? Oded Ilani developed his own game with a clear vision to give back to the planet. This interview brings to light his journey in the gaming industry when trying to incorporate environmental practices, his challenges, and an advice or two for those who want to start but don’t know where…

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m an illustrator & animator in the gaming industry. I started working in 2015 and continued since as my passion has only increased over time. Since then, I decided to pursue one of my dreams and develop games and other IPs that will do good for the world. I started this with “Planet Defense”, a tower defense game that promotes environmental action both in the game and outside of it, with part of the revenue going to two foundations we collaborate with.

You work in the gaming industry, what sustainability trends are you seeing rising, and how do you think they’ll affect the industry? 

I’ve started seeing two types of trends I find interesting for different reasons. The first is big companies emphasize donations to different sustainability programs and reduce carbon footprints. To be honest, I think many (not all, but most) of these companies do this to get a better reputation and not much more. However, if taking care of pressing issues for reputations means the companies do good, I’m all for it.

The other trend I see is with smaller creators who are starting to collaborate directly with different sustainability organizations, similar to what we tried to do. These creators show their love for nature directly through their games and their actions. I think they pave the way for a better gaming industry.

Do you think sustainability inside games and studios is important when it comes to business growth?

Absolutely. If we look at it from a financial standpoint, involvement with sustainability via your game\studio gives one access to an entire field and population that are otherwise inaccessible. Many people don’t care for games since real-world affairs matter to them more, and rightly so. But if a game offers a manner of making a difference while enjoying the experience due to added entertainment, why wouldn’t they play?

Besides, and frankly speaking, if a business that can afford it doesn’t invest in sustainability, their business nor anything else on the planet will grow for that long.

What are some challenges you’ve noticed when creating environmental games?

You need to balance two things, both of which are immensely challenging. The first thing: you need to make a good game. One that will engage a wide audience and be successful and financially lucrative regardless of anything else. Then, you need to make sure it engages with sustainability organizations and communicates this to the player and wider audience. That is way more challenging than I thought of when I started developing my own game. There are so many things you need to know about sustainability processes that especially as a games developer, you need help with.

How can gaming studios overcome these challenges?

I think the best thing a gaming studio can do is focus on the game – and delegate basically anything else. I think we could’ve had much more impact if someone had helped us both with the sustainability challenges and how to use it in our marketing both in the game and outside of it. Quite honestly, I wish we could have known about when we started making the game since its service sounded just about perfect on that front.

What’s a recommendation you’d give to a beginner in environmental games development? 

As a game developer – start small. I mean, do a simple, short, and effective slice of the game that is super fun for players. Refine it until it’s amazing and don’t grow too big at this point. Trust me, it’s gonna get a lot more complicated as you continue the development process.

On the environmental front, look for any possible help and counseling. Most game developers are great at that and don’t have enough time to fully engage with sustainability in a manner that will be effective. Try to find a 3rd party (Like ‘cough cough’ that will help you to do as much good with your product. These parties, including a good publisher, will take a massive load off your shoulders and give you a chance to succeed as a game, do a lot of good in the world – and keep doing it with more games. Sure it demands a bit more investment and research into these 3rd parties, but it’s well worth it.

Sealguin Studios team

Do you have any other suggestions for anyone who is passionate about sustainability and wants to make an impact?

I do. Consider the following:

I am an artist who develops games. I leveraged my skills to make an impact using the tools I know. My story is as simple as that. Everyone has their own toolset and skills. If we can see how we can use even a little bit of our craft, in whatever form it takes to improve the world around us, I think that we can make an actual impact. There is no better place to start than environmental actions & sustainability, in my opinion. But don’t let that stop you if that happens to be out of your realm of influence right now. You can do something to change the world for the better in your own way. And there is no better time than now.

As we wrap up this insightful conversation with Oded Ilani, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the intersection of gaming and sustainability is a journey, but one that is worth it.

Whether you’re a seasoned developer or just starting out, there’s a place for you in the world of environmental gaming. Let’s level up together and make a difference that truly counts, for your business, and for the planet.

Interested in getting connected with Oded Ilani? Check his main links below



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