Playing the energy game

One public affairs campaign that I’ve been paying attention to for the past year is, the campaign sponsored by Chevron Oil that’s about drawing attention to energy conservation and climate change and which I first heard about in February 2006.

Much of what I see about this campaign is advertising in business journals. Now that I think about it, I’ve seen very little other than advertising. No editorial commentary, few blog posts.

But the advertising is there so I guess that’s the communication focus to raise awareness.

Then there’s the website itself which contains a discussion forum that doesn’t really look as though its advanced much in conversation quantity or quality during the past year. Too many hurdles still in place, I think.

But now there’s something that could well propel this initiative into greater public consciousness and, hence, engagement.

That something is Energyville, an interactive online game developed by The Economist that highlights the challenges involved in managing the supply, demand and distribution of various energy sources for a city between now and 2030.

I heard about this through an ad in this week’s Economist. You couldn’t miss the ad as it was an insert bound-in to the magazine.

I’ve just played the game and found it highly compelling. It reminds me of the original Sim City and Sim City 2000 games for the PC from the early 90s (and there’s an online version of the original Sim City).

With Energyville, you make decisions on the types of energy resources you think your city will need in the coming decades – these include nuclear, hydro, solar and wind along with the traditional like coal and oil – balancing your thinking and hence decisions on a combination of cost, environmental impact and security options.

Once you’ve completed the game, you get a score like this:


The game makes you think about the issues surrounding energy usage, society’s needs, security, effects on the environment… indeed, all the hot issues surrounding the changes happening in our world and the impacts we have on our environment.

Energyville is cleverly conceived and implemented. It has credibility, both in the breadth and depth of content and the fact that The Economist is behind its development.

Where it really scores is in how it wraps all of this up and presents it in a highly entertaining way.

What would be great is if this online game were to be developed as a standalone, downloadable version and made available for a nominal cost if not for free. Then I think there would be real opportunities for enormous awareness-raising.

Anyway, have a go yourself and see if it impacts your thinking about our environment.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.