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Online gaming could cut world energy consumption

gamersNow here’s a novel energy-saving idea that just might work brilliantly: making efficiency improvements the object of a massive multi-player online game. The more energy you conserve, the more points you earn for your online gaming team.

That’s the concept put forward by Byron Reeves, a professor of communication at Stanford University. Reeves offered details at the Behavior, Energy and Climate Change conference in Sacramento last fall, during a presentation titled “Anticipating the Future: Immersive New Media – Evidence and Ideas from the Science of Fun.”

Reeves suggests that people could be easily inspired to reduce their energy footprint through an online eco-game similar to the wildly popular and addictive World of Warcraft.

“Changing deep-rooted behaviors is really hard,” stated the synopsis for Reeves’ presentation. “Playing collaborative computer games is seriously fun. Change and fun depend on similar ingredients that can be aligned in immersive interactive media. Behavior change while having fun can result.”

How would the game work? By tying your real-world home to your virtual game home via a smart meter. The meter would track your real-life energy consumption and translate that into a rating for your virtual home. And that rating would become the basis for online competition against others … the only difference being there would be a real-life pay-off in terms of energy saved.

“Because in this world, the only way to improve your virtual home is to lower the energy usage in your real one,” states the demo video produced for Reeves’ presentation.

While the eco-game hasn’t gone beyond concept yet, it’s already piqued the interest of the US Department of Energy and utility companies, Earth2Tech reports.

I, for one, would jump at the opportunity to play … if only to assuage my guilt for all those wasted hours of playing Bejeweled online with no benefit for the planet.

1 Comment

  • paladin09
    Posted January 15, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    That’s a great idea! Lets economize the use of energy!

Comments are closed.

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