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30-10-2019 | Research

Toward Greener Gaming: Estimating National Energy Use and Energy Efficiency Potential

Authors: Evan Mills, Norman Bourassa, Leo Rainer, Jimmy Mai, Arman Shehabi, Nathaniel Mills

Published in: The Computer Games Journal | Issue 3-4/2019

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Abstract

Rising computing power, improved graphics quality, higher-resolution displays, and streaming delivery have rendered computer gaming an increasingly energy-intensive activity. However, the role of gaming-related energy use, and how it varies across platforms, has not been substantively examined by the energy or gaming research communities. We measured the energy consumption of 26 gaming systems representing the spectrum of technology, price, and performance. Among the findings, energy use varied widely by hardware, but equally widely depending on which of 37 game titles or 11 benchmarks were run. Cloud-gaming energy use in datacenters and networks is markedly higher than that for local gaming. Virtual-reality gaming can use significantly more or less energy than gaming with conventional displays, depending on hardware and software choices. In aggregate, we find that gaming represents $5 billion per year in energy expenditures across the United States or 34 TWh/year (2.4% of residential electricity nationally), with 24 MT/year of associated carbon-dioxide emissions equivalent to that of 85 million refrigerators or over 5 million cars. Targeted hardware and software strategies can reduce the gaming energy use by approximately half, while maintaining or improving metrics of user experience. In addition to system designers, gamers and game developers can play a significant role in managing the energy required for gaming.

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Footnotes
2
Using weighted-average residential electricity prices of $0.137/kWh (U.S. EIA 2017, 2019). Given the structure of most electricity tariffs, at the marginal prices where this consumption actually occurs, costs would be about 50% higher. The weighted-average electricity emissions factor is 0.71 kg marginal CO2-equivalent per kilowatt-hour (U.S. EPA 2019).
 
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Metadata
Title
Toward Greener Gaming: Estimating National Energy Use and Energy Efficiency Potential
Authors
Evan Mills
Norman Bourassa
Leo Rainer
Jimmy Mai
Arman Shehabi
Nathaniel Mills
Publication date
30-10-2019
Publisher
Springer New York
Published in
The Computer Games Journal / Issue 3-4/2019
Electronic ISSN: 2052-773X
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s40869-019-00084-2

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