Take a greener approach to gaming?
As many of you know from my “About” page, I am an avid gamer. As I was thumbing through the net, I came across an article entitle, “Six Ways to Kill Your Console”. Some of the six items are no-brainers, such as not putting your console on the carpet (yes, this kills circulation and generates heat) and using a surge protector is always good thing and not just for consoles. However, whenever people throw in the “green” card my spider sense just tingles. In regards to leaving on the console, the writer wrote this:
Be honest. Have you ever left your console on for an extended period, rather than quitting your game properly? Why? Do you want to wear out your console by increasing strain on its (albeit few) moving parts? Do you own shares in your electricity company? Do you just hate this mean ol’ planet that much? You’ll have a hard time playing Halo XXIV when the melting polar icecaps have submerged your house under nine feet of water. All kidding aside, taking a greener approach to your gaming will pay off with lower bills, longer-lasting consoles, and a happier planet.
Okay, let’s bust a few myths here, starting with the obvious one. Leaving your console on for hours will not kill your console. I have been playing games for decades and I have left my Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Playstation 1, Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Nintendo 64, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, TG-16, and my NES and Sega Master System on for days, not hours, days and my consoles worked just fine when I go to play them. In fact, out of a moment of sheer laziness I didn’t turn off my Xbox 360, Wii and PS3 ad left them all on and they all worked just fine.
The other myth is that somehow if you leave your consoles on they will eat a hole in your energy bill. This is patently false. The amount of energy that your consoles use are less than your everyday appliances and yet we leave our refrigerators running, our microwaves on for the purposes of telling time and some of us let our washing machines run much longer than what they need to. Your videogame console is not going to raise the cost of your energy bill because, like so many other electronics, are designed to use a minimum amount of power to maximum effect.
I post this article from Game Informer that has the amount of power that these consoles use and I post this list of appliances and the amount of power that they use. Does anyone honestly think that the combined wattage of the consoles will save energy if they are turned off compared to the refrigerator? Of course not. Another thing you’ll notice is that the Wii and PS3 slim use less energy than the Xbox 360 and the original PS3. There is a simple explanation for this: more moving parts = more energy use. The PS3 and Xbox 360 not only have hard drives, but perform a great deal more functions than the Wii and the PS3 does more than the PS3 slim (playing PS1 and PS2 games for instance). This just confirms something any entry level physics course teaches: more moving parts require more energy. However, in the grand scheme of things the amount of money you may think you are saving when you turn off your systems is so disperse that you could save more money if stopped eating out everyday than you would if you stopped running your system.
The final myth, that somehow what you’re doing is “saving the planet” is pure green psychobabble. It just needs to stop. Seriously. What you do in the grand scheme of things will not impact the planet an iota. And no, don’t go on the stupid “well, if we all did it we could make a difference” canard. No, we won’t. When the Earth can generate earthquakes one after the other in different spots with more force than 10,000 A-bombs, when the Earth can generate tornadoes at a moment’s notice and wipe out entire communities, when hurricanes can chart predictable, but devastating courses that wipe out entire cities, and when the Earth can generate volcanoes that shoot plumes of black soot into the sky and impact the immediate weather for days, what we do as human beings cannot even begin to compare what the Earth itself can do. And definitely turning off your console to “save the planet” is about as stupid as stupid does.
Here’s the bottom line: if I had to follow any of these myths, then the first one is the most plausible. So turn off your console because you think that it will prolong the life of the console. Don’t turn it off because you think you can save money or, heaven forbid, you think it will “save the planet”. That is just the height of green foolishness.