Gaming

Global Warming Strikes ‘SimCity’

Gaming fans may find that life in “SimCity” suddenly gets a lot more realistic this fall with the release of “SimCity Societies”, which has been designed to incorporate some of the harsh realities of global warming.

Through a partnership between Electronic Arts (EA) and energy giant BP, the next-generation version of the bestselling game series combines city building with industry expertise on energy, electricity production and greenhouse gas emissions to highlight the impact of electricity generation on the carbon dioxide emissions linked with climate change, the companies said.

The game is due Nov. 15 in Europe and North America.

Educational Opportunity

“Since their inception in 1989, ‘SimCity’ games have served as excellent creative and educational tools to convey complex subjects,” said Steve Seabolt, vice president of global brand development for the Sims label at EA. “With ‘SimCity Societies,’ we have the opportunity not only to demonstrate some of the causes and effects of global warming, but also to educate players how seemingly small choices can have a big global impact.

“BP was one of the first major energy companies to publicly acknowledge the need to reduce carbon emissions and begin taking precautionary measures,” Seabolt added. “As such, they are the perfect partner to help educate people on this important social issue in ‘SimCity Societies.'”

Tough Choices

“SimCity Societies” will not force players to adopt one type of power or another for the cities they build; rather, they will be free to choose, just as in real life. Also like in real life, there are pros and cons associated with each option.

The least expensive and most readily available buildings in “SimCity Societies” are also the biggest producers of carbon dioxide, for example, so players who choose to build cities dependent on them will see their carbon ratings rise. Once critical levels are reached, the game will issue alerts about the threat of droughts, heat waves and other natural disasters that may strike.

Alternatively, players can take a greener approach by choosing from a variety of BP Alternative Energy low-carbon power options, which tend to keep citizens safer from disaster but also cost more and don’t produce as much power as the high-emissions options do.

Informative real-world snippets about power production and conservation will also be available in-game, educating players about global warming both virtually and in reality.

Raising Awareness

“The time was right for this partnership,” said Carol Battershell, vice president for BP Alternative Energy. “EA was developing the next iteration of the “SimCity” series at the same time that we were looking for opportunities to raise awareness about low-carbon power choices.

“EA has a powerful reach to the next generation, and BP has a suite of low-carbon power alternatives,” Battershell added. “In our collaboration through this innovative game, we can provide education on the issues surrounding climate change, its association with carbon emissions and the ability to take early positive action through low-carbon power choices.”

Gaming and virtual world technologies are increasingly being used to provide interactive tools for serious business applications such as training, collaboration and education, Michael Cai, director of broadband and gaming with Parks Associates, told TechNewsWorld.

“This is a wider implementation of this whole phenomenon,” Cai said. “It’s also a lot more fun than reading text or looking at presentations,” he added.

The Greater Good

“I think this sounds great,” George Douglas, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, told TechNewsWorld.

Increased awareness of the consequences of choices made in everyday life can ultimately change the choices people make, Douglas explained. Ultimately, he said, “the more people know about energy — how it’s made, how it’s used and the impacts of those possibilities — the better off we all will be.”

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