New York Times

Simulating Green: How British Petroleum Is Using Video Games To Solve Global Warming

Gonzalo Frasca has been preaching it for ages, and I've been repeating it for ages: Due to their simulational and interactive nature videogames are perfectly suited to explain the underlying mechanisms of complex systems. Simulations can express messages in ways that narrative simply cannot, they're capable of modelling not simply representing a related experience as well as producing different outcomes according to the player's input.Now mainstream media finally recognise this potential. Asking if a game will surpass the impact of an Inconvenient Truth the New York Times' Dot Earth blog takes a closer look at the upcoming SimCity Societies:

But given how popular the SimCity series has been, there’s a decent chance that the new SimCity Societies game I just wrote about will engage more people with the realities of climate risks and responses than all the yelling about Bjorn Lomborg or Newt Gingrich.

One reason is that the game, while very much entertainment, forces players... to make choices, to understand that forswearing coal means installing an amazing number of much more expensive wind turbines and solar panels.

That means that to avoid going broke fighting the climate fight, one has to invest a lot more to make energy storage and solar panels far, far cheaper — and such research still isn’t happening on anything close to the scale scientists say is needed.

But the game also shows the long-term consequences of sticking with the cheap and easy fuel of the last two centuries — black combustible rocks.

For gamers who build a city around fossil energy choices, droughts and heat waves supposedly intensify... As the producer, Rachel Bernstein, explained, climate-related disasters abroad also have a ripple effect that hurts your imagined city’s economy. And on and on.

Oddly the enough the module in the game that deals with climate change issues is produced with BP (as in British Petroleum). Even more oddly enough, as someone on Boing Boing pointed out, BP is actually the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels…


News Feed: The Caucus on Politics and Cyberspace

The New York Times’ political blog, The Caucus, reports:

We caught up the other day with a conference about campaign politics and the Internet, where Joe Trippi took time out from baking, er, burning pies with the Edwards campaign to trace the arc of the influence of politics on cyberspace, and vice versa. A few of the e-advisers to the campaigns, namely those with the Clinton, Obama and McCain operations, also attended. They didn’t give away many trade secrets, but offered some insights into what works and what doesn’t at this stage of the election cycle.

Read the article here