Gaming for Sustainability

I hate it when I’m wrong. Who doesn’t? But in this case, I’m happy to admit I was wrong about “gamification,” a concept I was introduced to at the Sustainable Brands ’11 conference in Monterey last June. My reaction was disbelief that gamification—using games to encourage users in certain behaviors—could really influence something as significant as sustainability. Now, I’m thinking gamification may really have a positive, even transformational role to play in promoting and achieving sustainability. What made me reverse my thinking? An initiative being championed and led by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (aka The Gubenator).

I just got clued into a venture Mr. Schwarzenegger is heading with DONG Energy, a Denmark-based leader in renewable technologies, particularly wind energy, and some leaders from the United Nations. It’s a virtual/alternative universe game, along the lines of “Second Life.” Players, or perhaps the more accurate term is avatars, will be able to enter “SUSTAINIA,”an alternative universe where they will be able to apply and implement existing sustainability technologies and best practices to create a virtual reality of what our real world could look like if there was more widespread adoption and implementation of these technologies and practices.

What a great education tool for individual and corporate citizens of all ages and vocations! Due to launch sometime between June and October of this year, it might just be the first online game this IT Luddite actually engages in. I’m really excited. And, it’s got me wondering…is there an opportunity for a business-engaging NGO like GreenBlue to develop a parallel game targeted at Chief Sustainability Officers and other sustainability executives, leaders, and champions, through which they could create an virtual reality version of their companies, and create and demonstrate scenarios by which business and industry can actually redefine growth for a more sustainable future?


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