Just because I love the actual world doesn't mean I'm not a pretty big fan of virtual worlds as well. Some have said that actively seeking out fake worlds to explore and enjoy is be a symptom of alienation from or even disdain for the environment. But I can't help but feel that's absolute crap. And today I've got someone who very likely agrees with me, and he happens to be one of the biggest gamers in the world. Scott Cronce is the Chief Technology Officer of Electronic Arts. Scott's worked on dozens of video games over the last two decades and when I noticed his name pop up on the EcoGeek mailing list (don't you want to join too) I had to get in touch with him.
I was excited to learn that he's an even bigger EcoGeek than I am, and was happy to oblige us with an interview.
EcoGeek: CTO of Electronic Arts eh? That sounds a lot like "Head of Video Games for the Entire World" what are your responsibilities with EA?
Scott Cronce: This October I’ll celebrate my 19th anniversary at Electronic Arts. In 1988 I joined EA as a Technical Director for the simulations group were I was very fortunate to work on many types of games from military simulations to a little group of games we now call EA Sports. Over the years my responsibilities grew from project level to company level technology management. During console transitions I also have the extra fun of heading up our engineering efforts on new game machines. As EA grew I had ‘title creep’ to the point where it would no longer fit on a standard business card without multiple abbreviations.
EG: Do you think there's an interplay between the virtual worlds of gaming and the actual world of environmentalism.
SC: As a game play mechanic, of course there is. Just like in the real word, the virtual world is made up of resources to manage. A game designer can use elements of adverse environmental effects to balance out game play.
EG: Do you have any personal environmental achievements that you think are particularly awesome.
SC: I think I got a little obsessed with my electricity usage. I filled up my roof top with 56-220w solar panels. It finally dawned on me how big the system was when my Solar company put pictures of the array on their website in industrial section. I guess I went a little overboard. We then changed out our gas components to electric and swapped out all our incandesce lights for compact fluorescent. I was amazed how high tech they had become, I could even get dimmable ones! Next came the electric scooter, what a great way to get around town. Not satisfied with my new electric hobby, I hunted for an electric car that I could use for my 45 mile round trip commute. I found a 1995 U.S. Electricar (basically a Geo) that had just enough range to get me to work. After a 10hr charge I was ready to drive it back home again. It was fun but not that practical. I was then lucky enough to find a 2002 Toyota RAV4 EV. Now that’s a real electric car. With its 120 mile range It not only became my daily computer but my main car. My wife liked it so much that I found another one for her. We still have our gas car as backup but rarely need to use it. I haven’t needed to by gas since last December. It’s really a shame that consumers can’t walk into a dealership today and buy an EV. Maybe companies like Tesla Motors will change that.
EG: Do you think EA might get in on the current environmental craze in any way?
SC: There are many more people like myself at EA. I think you’d be surprised to see how many hybrids are in our parking lots and how many employees are environmentally active. As a corporation we have always been very environmentally conscious. Our games are pure entertainment. We have had many games were some environmental element to them but we haven’t made one entirely themed on the environment. Maybe in today’s heightened awareness we’ll have more opportunities to do more.
EG: What makes you hopeful for our world's environmental future?
SC: We have a history of reversing and rectifying problems we have caused to the environment so I see no reason why we won’t continue. What gives me extra hope today is the extent of investment I’m now seeing put into green technologies. That means there is actual money to be made. We are going to see big boom in new ideas and technologies over the next few years.
EG: What do you think are the best ideas and innovations we've got to save the world.
SC: That’s a hard one. I’ll stay away from miracle inventions and instead just deploy the ones we already know work. To start with I’d like to see all new construction use solar (like thin film shingles). We could drastically cut down energy costs for the average home owner while eliminating the need to build new power plants. I’d like to see us bring back the plug in electric car. We have thousands of homemade plug in hybrids now, sure would be great if a consumer could buy a new one. Nonprofit organizations like www.pluginamerica.com are staring to make some headway, I just wish auto manufactures along with local and federal government agencies would help.