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IBM thinks renewable energy is a game

February 15, 2008 - by Dallas Kachan, Cleantech Group

IBM has introduced a 3D online multiplayer game to help teach kids about renewable energy.

IBM renewable energy game
No, you can't shoot things, but the game comes replete with a melting glacier.

Intended for use in and out of classrooms, PowerUp challenges teenagers to help save the planet "Helios" from ecological disaster.

The game, which can be played alone or together, features a planet in near ecological ruin where "three exciting missions for solar, wind and water power" must be solved before sandstorms, floods or "SmogGobs" thwart the rescue.

[Too bad teens, if they opt to suffer the insultingly-named SmogGobs, will have find more pedantic ways to learn about geothermal, biofuel, waste to energy, biomass, hydrogen and fuel cells, or—gasp!—nuclear energy.]

PowerUp aims to use kids' interest in fantasy virtual worlds to encourage them to learn about engineering principles by riding over rugged mountains in buggies to build solar towers or searching through "grim junk yards," as IBM promoted them, to repair wind turbines.

"The game also features non-player characters (NPCs) ... to be role models to encourage every young person to consider a career in engineering," the company said.

To ensure a safe environment, players and NPCs will be restricted to phrase-based chats to interact in missions, lest any player feel the creative urge to actually string words together themselves.

IBM says it built the game in about 16 months.

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