GAME TECH: Call of duty on climate change game that raises awareness

Don’t waste your energy on those games’, said every mother who ever laid eyes on a PlayStation, writes Ronan Jennings
GAME TECH: Call of duty on climate change game that raises awareness

Did an Irish mammy ever see a joypad and smile with approval? ‘Ah, Call of Duty, good boy. Did you get many headshots today, love?’ We all know there’s no point arguing with an Irish mammy — too much gaming, like too much anything, is wasted energy.

But sometimes gaming serves a purpose other than entertainment. Sometimes, games can be used to educate. In those cases, the energy is never wasted.

In Paris, the UN and 195 countries are currently trying to reach an agreement on the conservation of energy on a global scale. In truth, most of us don’t have a clue what that really entails. Sure, the goal is to scale back temperature changes, minimise the increase to 2 degrees by 2050, but what does that demand, exactly? How can that be implemented?

A group of Balkan environmental NGOs have released a flash game online to illustrate the challenges and choices we face. The group wanted to educate people on how our choices will affect these climate goals. The aim of the game is to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in six countries. All the data in the game is modelled on a ‘complete and professional energy model’ of the countries involved.

The gameplay itself is a straightforward affair, whereby the player is faced with a series of ‘effort’ sliders in different categories, each one affecting the overall CO2 emissions of that country.

For example, the ‘Transport Mode’ slider, at its lowest, says: ‘We will continue to use our cars like today: LOW EFFORT’. At its highest point, however, the slider says: ‘Our use of public transport instead of cars as well as non-motorised transport increases significantly: HIGH EFFORT’. There are ‘demand’ sliders for Transport Technology, Home Efficiency, Heating Technology and others, plus ‘supply’ sliders for the energy sources, such as Wind, Hydro, Solar and Biomass.

Only by striking the right balance between supply and demand do we see what kind of ‘effort’ it will take to reduce emissions by 2050.

As games go, this is a limited experience, but it will make you think a little more about what’s going on in Paris right now, and some of the questions in play. The game is available at www.see2050energymodel.net.

AVENGERS DITCHED

Speaking of wasted energy, word emerged this week of a cancelled Avengers game that had been in development at THQ, before the publisher crashed into bankruptcy. The game had been in development for over a year before the title was canned in 2011.

This Avengers game was due to tie in with the 2012 movie and began life as a third-person action title.

No surprise there. However, the story gets interesting when, midway through development, the third-person setting was ditched for a much more daring, first-person co-operative angle.

The idea was that each player would choose one of the Avengers and play to that hero’s specific strengths in team-based action.

It was a very interesting concept, but one that never reached completion.

Since then, of course, the landscape has changed.

Console games are too expensive for (generally) cheap movie tie-ins these days, which is no bad thing.

COCAINE GAME

One game that didn’t have a big budget — if any — is the free Narcos game that Netflix promoted on their Twitter account this week.

The game was developed by one of the Netflix engineers and in it you are tasked to smuggle cocaine for the notorious Pablo Escobar.

The graphics might have been cutting edge when Escobar was in his prime, but they won’t be winning any awards in this day and age. Still, the gameplay is strangely addictive.

Your only objective is to avoid the helicopters dropping bombs and stay out of the sight of the many soldiers, all while collecting resources and carrying the drugs to their destination.

Narcos the game may not be brilliant, but it’s a clever way for Netflix to keep their popular TV series in the limelight while the second season is being developed.

It’s also exactly the kind of game your mammy would hate to see you playing.

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