With over 11 million players across the globe, a Stanford professor thinks World of Warcraft creators Blizzard Entertainment could harness the power for good by rewarding home energy and water conservation within the game.
Professor Byron Reeves had previously suggested that someone create a MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game) that incorporates smart meter technology, but in a recent interview he discussed the power of applying the concept to World of Warcraft.
Reeves introduced the idea at a Stanford-sponsored climate change conference last year complete with a Sims-like demo video. While a game like this would appeal to casual or non-gamers, an integration into World of Warcraft would target an entire other group.
Including smart meter monitoring in the game would target the competitive spirit in World of Warcraft, but also the aspect of teamwork. In the game, you can’t win unless your whole team wins. So it would be to everyone’s benefit if everyone on the team decided to minimize their energy usage. Reeves notes that these are the goals of the general environmental movement — to get the world to think and act in everyone’s best interests.
Reeves said he believes that for many people the virtual-world motivation to reduce consumption will trump all other motivating factors, like preventing climate change or saving money on utilities.
Of course, you could change your energy usage because you had read all the science about climate change and you knew something about energy usage in the house and you were interested in saving six cents here, a dollar there, two dollars there on your energy bill. But we don’t think that that will be enough motivation at scale for lots of people to get into this. So if you can align that goal with “let’s have some fun, let’s go on a quest, let’s have a team activity, let’s see who can do this better than others, let’s help each other” – all the different features of games that are important. And if we can get that going at the same time as the community value, we might have something special.
What do you think? Could Blizzard listen and make this an option in the game, or will the concept be doomed to productuction by a B-rate developer?Photo Credit: adactio on Flickr under Creative Commons license.