Hacking Minecraft to Include Carbon Emissions

minecraft imageJames Smith via YouTube/Video screen capture

Gaming has long been a target for companies wanting to entice people into caring about carbon emissions. This focus has had its successes and failures, and much depends on if people actually want to play the game created for them. But a hack by AMEE Platform Evangelist (um, best job title ever) James Smith proves that real-life carbon emission data can be overlaid into even the most popular games, like Minecraft.

Smith went to work on this hack at the Stockholm Green Hackathon in October. He states that Minecraft -- a game in which you can make things and in which that making often includes burning things -- is a perfect platform for overlaying carbon emissions data. He used AMEEconect to get real scientific data from IPCC which is then used to calculate the carbon footprint of your actions as a player, from adding carbon emissions to the atmosphere by burning things to taking it out of the atmosphere by planting trees.

minecraft imageJames Smith via YouTube/Video screen capture

"When you burn some wood in a furnace, the mod calls out to AMEEconnect to do a calculation, and adds the result to a tracker in-game. As the carbon ticks up, the environment gets more and more polluted as the skies go dark and the clouds come down. OK, not entirely accurate, but an effective visual indicator!"

Smith notes that his hack supports the burning of pretty much anything in Minecraft -- so if you light a fire, you won't escape the carbon ticker.

"After a long day of mining and smelting, you’ll have to go plant a few trees to keep the weather nice."

Smith provides two videos so we can see how the hack functions:

So what do you think -- could adding carbon data to a game that already exists like Minecraft be a way to boost awareness about the real world impacts of our actions? Might we be able to hack Minecraft or other games to be a competitive form of reducing carbon not just in the computer world but in the real world too? Add your thoughts in the comments.

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