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Summary:

Call it World of Greencraft: At a recent climate change conference at sponsored by Stanford University, Byron Reeves, a professor there, proposed an unlikely marriage of online gaming and consumer smart meters. Instead of just displaying incremental changes in energy consumption on the homeowner’s PC as […]

smart-meter-mmoCall it World of Greencraft: At a recent climate change conference at sponsored by Stanford University, Byron Reeves, a professor there, proposed an unlikely marriage of online gaming and consumer smart meters. Instead of just displaying incremental changes in energy consumption on the homeowner’s PC as raw data, what if it were incorporated into an MMOG (for those non-gamers that’s a massive multi-player online game)?

In such a game, your energy consumption in the real world would be linked to the game world — the more energy you save, the more points you get. This demo video produced for the conference demonstrates how that might work, showing different home owners competing to have the most energy-efficient house in the virtual world.

While still a hypothetical game, it’s based on real research of human behavior. As an expert in psychological processing of media, Professor Reeves has studied the high levels of engagement people invest in games like World of Warcraft, which are avidly played by tens of millions worldwide. Players feel an emotional investment in their character, which they want to improve by achieving game goals, but the biggest rewards require a team effort.

As he noted, “In Warcraft you don’t win unless your team wins.” This creates an alignment between personal goals and larger social goals, an important step when it comes to achieving real and lasting energy consumption.

Reeves said his concept has attracted interest from utility companies and the Department of Energy. Since utilities are already mandated to spend money on advertising to encourage energy conservation, he reasons, why not convey the same message in a game? The biggest challenge now is finding a game developer who can actually make the project appealing to consumers.

Disclosure: Reeve’s proof-of-concept demo video was developed on commission by virtual world marketing studio Millions of Us, formerly a sponsor of my Second Life blog.

  1. This game is cool. Does it come with “Bots” like those Chinese wow gold farmers in World of Warcraft? Lol… Anyways, I’ll support this game ;)

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  2. [...] yet, it’s already piqued the interest of the US Department of Energy and utility companies, Earth2Tech [...]

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  3. [...] fun if you could compete against your neighbors for bragging rights? At least one Stanford professor thinks so. At a recent climate change conference, Professor Byron Reeves proposed incorporating smart meter [...]

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  4. [...] about their energy use leads them to change behavior and reduce energy consumption. A Earth2Tech story highlights the latest development in the field: linking smart metering to online games. The idea is [...]

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  5. [...] fun if you could compete against your neighbors for bragging rights? At least one Stanford professor thinks so. At a recent climate change conference, Professor Byron Reeves proposed incorporating smart meter [...]

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  6. [...] E­ar­th­2Te­c­h­ « JCI-Saft to produce Li-Ion packs for Azure Dynamics hybrid vans PROBIO inaugurates the [...]

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  7. [...] Although I’m not a huge online gamer myself, I think this is a fantastic idea. It links the energy efficient lifestyle with the culture of a significant amount of our population. Millions of people enjoy online gaming, so why not create a way to actually have these online games affect our real lives in a positive way? Although Professor Reeves has already garnered interest from some utility companies and the Department of Energy, the biggest obstacle in the development and launch of the game would be to create enough interest and appeal to consumers. Somehow having your avatar make sure it turns off the lights or only uses the dishwasher when it’s a full load isn’t as exciting as slaying mythical dragons or protecting a village from an evil army of goblins and trolls. To read the full story from earth2tech, click here. [...]

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  8. We are working on similar efforts though on a smaller scale on http://reactiongrid.com . We have several green projects on display in addition to real world devices connected to our grid feeding and receiving data right now!

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