Being Green – Playing Games With Sustainability

Hi Folks:

Friday once again, and time for this week’s ‘Being Green‘ post.  Before I get to that, however, I want to add a couple of things.  First, in last Friday’s ‘Being Green’ post I talked about taking the ‘long view‘ on making sustainable choices.  This past week I came across one person’s critical view of waterless urinals, here: Flush with environmental enthusiasm.  Second, Tim Fausch (publishing director with BNP Media) wrote a blog post this past week titled, ‘Moving On…It’s Time to Share Your Story‘.  In his post he mentioned how he’s getting tired of hearing only negative news on the ‘net, TV, radio, etc. and invites everyone to share postive stories instead.  You can add your story here: Moving On: Thriving in Tough Times.  BTW, if you’re looking for more good news, the following are a few good places to start:

Okay… this week’s topic is about playing games, and I must admit that I’m old enough to remember a time before computer games.  Yes, really.  Actually, somewhere in a box I still have the slide rule I used to use in a world before pocket calculators, and if you don’t know what a slide rule actually is, well, you’re not alone. 

Computers have literally transformed the ways we interact with our world, in ways that none of us could have imagined even 20 years ago.  We’ve evolved from ‘Pong’ to games like ‘World of Warcraft’ and ‘Farmville’, and I wanted to start by pointing you to an excellent TED talk by Seth Priebatsch called, “The game layer on top of the world“.  In his talk Seth begins by discussing the ‘social layer’ we’ve constructed with networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, etc. and goes on to discuss how we can use and are using some of those ‘game dynamics’ to influence the ways we interact with each other – both online and in the ‘real world’.  Farmville for example has some 70,000,000 users, according to Seth.  Another very good talk is by Jesse Schell, titled “Design Outside the Box“.  Jesse makes some similar and some different points in comparison to Seth’s talk, but both cover a similar strategy, and that is using the existing social networking structures and adding to them to change the ways we live.

So, can we use games to ‘play’ with sustainability?  Yes.  Definitely.  I’ve mentioned a couple of these before, but National Geographic Games puts out both ‘Plan It Green‘ and ‘Build It Green‘.  The Plan It Green game starts you as the newly-elected mayor of a town that is in sad environmental and financial straits.  As you work through your game you generate revenue, build new environmentally-friendly buildings, upgrade your power plants and more.  Build It Green is the sequel to the first, and continues with the ideas of building, upgrading, and developing new industries and strategies.

Autodesk also has a game which allows the user to retrofit old buildings and make them better.  From the site: “Play the RetroFits game and help raise awareness about the benefits of better, greener buildings. Buildings are the number 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Make these buildings better with sustainable and energy efficient design. Don’t just stand there. Play the game, post your high score, and invite your friends to compete—every little fit helps.”

Involved in industry?  WWF and Allianz have teamed up to provide the CO2 Climate Game.  You can choose from the insurance, automotive, chemical or utility industry, and have the opportunity to learn more about that industry while answering the question, “Can you successfully run a company while reducing your company’s CO2 emissions?”

And finally, for now, IBM has developed the IBM INNOV8: CityOne game.  From their site: “Think you know what it takes to make the energy systems that serve a city more efficient? Given the opportunity, could you make the city’s water cleaner and more plentiful, its banks more robust and customer-centric and its retail stores more innovative?”

Games can be fun, they can entertain us – but they can also educate us, and as we move more and more into an interconnected, networked world, playing games can also change our behaviour – literally transforming our world.

Okay, the links for this week include:

Okay, that’s it for now.  Have a great week!


P.S.  There’s a really interesting video here that shows the view from 70,000 feet in a U2 aircraft.  As the narrator says, at that altitude there are no political, geographical or religious boundaries and all we’re left with is our little blue marble called earth.  Yes, it’s somewhat ironic that this view comes from a US military spy plane, but still… it makes one think about this planet we all share.

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