The whole world has a bad fever. Here, in New York, I sit inside with the fan directly on my face as the city sweats out its hottest week in almost a decade. Europe is getting swallowed in wildfires, drought is constricting East Africa, and unrelenting monsoon rains are drowning Bangladesh. The world is very sick. People will die and have been dying. But, I guess, we still have video games to play.
In moments like this, when everything is so obviously going to shit, I’m inclined to dismiss art and games as frivolous. But they’re really a panacea. Video games help us go somewhere better, or at the very least, somewhere we can at least try to be a hero. There’s no beating the Fortune 500 companies dumping oil into the water or governments that get excited by dropping billions on plastic, excess, and more waste. But you can beat a game and feel better for a little bit, even while the sunshine beaming down on your shoulders clearly wants you to disintegrate. So I put together some do’s and don’ts for gaming during climate change.
Climate change is real. It’s scary and a real shame. Because it’s such an old and large problem, it intimidates you into wanting to cower, but accepting any unpleasantness helps you feel slightly more in control and slightly less anxious. Acceptance is actionable—fear, on its own, is not.
Acceptance shouldn’t mean constantly sinking into every disaster. Be gentle to yourself and set boundaries, if you require them, around depressing news and Twitter. When you have free time and want to relax, let yourself fully relax. Notice the heat pulsing off the thick air in your backyard without running your thoughts into the ground about why it’s there. When you play a video game, focus fully on the video game.
OK, so you’re playing a game and noticing the environment and how your body feels in it without judgment. Nice, good use of mindfulness. Now that your headspace is taken care of, you want to make sure your physical self is taken care of, too.
If you’re getting extra sweaty, use a skin-friendly cloth-like cotton or muslin—or you know, just a plain old towel—to prevent discomfort during gaming sessions. I also like stepping away from my PC every once in a while to spray water on my face or arms. It’s grounding and cooling, and you can get a spray bottle or facial mist for this, or use your fingers as nature intended.
Cotton, linen, micromodal, and rayon are some breathable, absorbent fabrics that will help keep your skin dry in rising temperatures. Looser clothing also allows air to come in and dry you off, while white clothes absorb less sun. But if you’re gaming alone and off camera, get naked. Being naked is peak airy and breathable, and your body will take care of the rest by sweating. You’re one with the universe.
I know energy drink companies love marketing their noxious vats of bottle rocket exhaust to tired gamers, but when you’re in hell on Earth, keep the caffeine to your usual cup of coffee. Energy drinks can be dehydrating, and dehydration paired with Halo’s retina-blasting graphics is a quick way to make your head split and your gaming experience suck. The same goes for drinking alcohol in the heat.
The unnatural blue of a G Fuel can or frosty glass of Curacao is admittedly enticing, though, so if you must drink caffeine or alcohol while gaming, make sure to pair it with lots of delicious water. Keep a large cup or bottle of water near you to make hydrating while playing simple and accessible—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends drinking before thirst hits you and regularly sipping water to help avoid heat exhaustion.
I don’t know if there’s a way to make gaming actually “sustainable.” Consoles require harmful (to both workers and the planet) materials like copper, zinc, and plastic to exist, and electricity to actually run games. But there are ways to be more aware of your consumption as an individual.
The best and easiest thing any individual can do on behalf of the planet is to stop buying things. The environmental news site Earth.org suggests that gamers buy digital instead of physical, upgrade devices only when truly necessary, and skip out on unnecessary add-ons that will probably end their lives on their back in a landfill. Consumerism is addictive and the video game industry loves to capitalize on our addiction, but I really encourage everyone to be thoughtful about the physical stuff in their lives, what it does for them, where it will go, who made it, and what will happen to those workers if we buy more of it.
Personally, I haven’t bought any new clothes (only secondhand, infrequently), since 2019, and find the majority of my other stuff in thrift stores, flea markets, on the curb, and in Buy Nothing groups (all interesting places to find gaming items, too). Save your money, depend less on stuff, and send a polite fuck you to the gas-guzzlers trying to sell it to us.
Exercise and learn about your right to repair and revisit games at your leisure, long after their release date. If the ocean does gulp us whole in the end, at least you’ll be on a couple of leaderboards when you go under.
Gaming is a powerful form of escapism, and when it’s this hot outside, we need it. Stay in the shade and roll up your shorts—follow these do’s and don’ts, play games, and be as well as you can be.