World of Warcraft an Unlikely Tool for Environmentalism (Video)

Stanford professor Byron Reeves thinks that World of Warcraft and similar team-oriented virtual games are the perfect platform for harnessing the competitive spirit of gamers for the greener good. Putting aside the notion of preventing climate change or saving species from a hot planet, the rise in energy efficiency would come from the human drive to win - and that, he says, is what will get people on board. Read on for a video demo of how energy efficiency can be incorporated into virtual gaming.11 million people play World of Warcraft, and with smart meter data also existing online, and becoming more and more accessable, Professor Reeves thinks combining the popularity of online gaming and smart meter monitoring will work wonders for bringing down energy use.

Reeves feels the spirit of online gaming is what would make a virtual smart grid game work:

It's a chance to play with a team. It's a chance to meet people, a chance to represent yourself in media rather than actually sitting on the other side of the screen only absorbing media. It's a chance to get feedback, to go on quests, to be engaged with groups, to do a lot of the different things that people do in real life in a way that is a whole lot of fun.

So, imagine that you're in your home, you're signed into this game, you have played this game before. You're on a team. You're in an entertainment context. You have a representation of yourself in this game just like you do in all the entertainment games. And you make a decision in a game to turn off the lights in an unused bedroom. As soon as you do that, the smart meter recognizes that, sends the information through the network to your computer, and your house turns a shade of green that it wasn't before. And, if I'm using less electricity, my team might do well, I get goal pieces and points, whatever the game designers think is fun. In other words, you get feedback in an entertainment game about what you're doing in the real world.


Considering how we've become pretty addicted to social networking and virtual worlds, turning a game into eco-activism such as this could indeed be a great way to get green SIM City-ers, WoW-ers and Second Life-ers to hop on board. We can just imagine 20-somethings sitting in the dark with nothing plugged in but their laptop, shouting with victory that they're using less energy than their neighbor. Now the issue is getting more energy efficient computers on which to play the games...oh, and of course the game itself.

Via Living on Earth via PlanetSave
More on Greener Gaming:
Build Your Own Green Home Game
Battleground Earth Lightbulb Game
SimCity, the Green Energy Edition: Website Unveils Alternative Energy Educational Video Game
World's First "Multiplayer Forecasting Game" Asks: What Would You Do If Humanity Has Only 23 Years Left?

Tags: Activism | Education | Electronics | Energy Efficiency | Games