Clickable Culture   Official Research Blog of Phantom Compass
  Entries tagged "" at  
  Subscribe to this tag: RSS 2.0 ATOM 1.0  
  2008 ‘Game For Change Challenge’: Second Verse Same As The First  
Posted 2007-12-11 by Tony Walsh
Microsoft has announced its 2008 "Games for Change Challenge," where students around the globe will submit serious games which address the theme "Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment." I didn't think much of the competition when it was launched earlier this year, based around the theme of global warming.

In both cases, I see the best solution to environmental rehabilitation as reducing (ideally eliminating) the use of Microsoft-created technology altogether. Stop making so many faulty consoles--or any at all, given that computing hardware such as the Xbox 360 eats too much energy and ultimately ends up in landfill or the hands of poor recyclers. If you must make consoles, ensure full backwards compatibility with previous software libraries and hardware peripherals such as controllers. Increase power efficiency, not power demands. Reduce packaging. Require contest entries to be presented remotely.

The ultimate test for these environmentally-themed games is whether or not the player does more good than harm in playing. Ideally, this means motivating a gamer to go outside and make a real difference, but it could be as simple as reducing household energy demands by turning off hungry hardware (such as the game console). The contest's mission is to have student technologists "actively contribute" to improving the world--I'm not sure this can be accomplished using Microsoft's proprietary game console as a platform.
  Are MMOs Killing The Planet?  
Posted 2007-12-04 by Tony Walsh
Are massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) killing the planet? A report released by environmental group Global Action Plan suggests that computer servers, such as those which are used for online games, have a hefty carbon footprint. In a summary of its report, the group says
  • A medium-sized server has a similar carbon footprint to an SUV achieving 15 miles to the gallon. Servers also require as much energy to cool them as they directly consume.
  • 1,000 PCs left on 24/7 without any power save settings activated will consume up to £70,000 of electricity per year...
Massive online games require massive server facilities--imagine, for example, how many always-on servers World of Warcraft must be running with over 9 million players around the world.

Given that MMOs are growing in popularity, it seems likely that an increasing number of servers will be needed to run the games. One can only hope that the efficiency (quality) of servers will somehow increase more quickly than the quantity of servers required. Because even if quality servers maintain today's levels, we're not doing the planet any favors by playing MMOs. We need to reduce gaming's ecological footprint.

Continue reading: Are MMOs Killing The Planet?
  Quick Links for 2007-11-22  
Posted 2007-11-22 by Tony Walsh
  Quick Links for 2007-11-09  
Posted 2007-11-09 by Tony Walsh
  Quick Links for 2007-11-03  
Posted 2007-11-03 by Tony Walsh
  links for 2007-09-17  
Posted 2007-09-17 by Tony Walsh
  Virtual World Meetings As Replacements For Real Ones  
Posted 2007-09-10 by Tony Walsh
Cisco's Christian Renaud thinks that virtual worlds exemplify collaboration technology capable of "drastically [reducing] the need for travel and the resultant emissions." While I agree that virtual worlds could reduce or eliminate travel emissions, I'm not as enthusiastic as Renaud. Leaving aside the environmental impact of actually operating a virtual world, any "drastic" reduction in travel emissions could only result from a "drastic" increase in virtual-world meetings as a replacement for real-world ones. And I don't see that happening in the short term. Longer term, perhaps, depending not only on the quality of the virtual world experience, but on public and private demand.

Replacing real-world meetings with virtual ones--whether via a "world," or some other telepresence environment--is going to take an effort. Meeting attendees will need to demand it, and meeting organizers will need to facilitate and promote it. I don't see any indication this is happening today, having flown via jet plane to Austin, NYC, San Francisco, Sydney, and Tasmania this year--primarily to discuss new technology such as virtual worlds. In particular, I find it mind-boggling that conferences about virtual worlds are not held in virtual space. The "Virtual Worlds" conference slated for this October actually features Cisco's Christian Renaud as a keynote speaker. This would be a great opportunity for Renaud to walk the talk and show up via an avatar instead of in the flesh.
  ‘Xbox 360 Games for Change Challenge’ Announced  
Posted 2007-06-11 by Tony Walsh
Microsoft announced today that it has partnered with the Games for Change organization in establishing a worldwide "Xbox 360 Games for Change Challenge." Launching in August, the competition is intended to increase awareness of socially-conscious games (and the Xbox 360 brand, of course).

College students from more than 100 countries will be eligible to submit their ideas for a game based on the theme of global warming, with three cash prizes available for the best team or individual entries (no word yet on the value of the prizes). The top three entrants will have a chance to present to the Xbox games management team--winning games could be added as a download to the Xbox Live Arcade network. Development of the games will use the XNA Game Studio Express software, which allows entry-level creators to try out Xbox Live development.

How about this for addressing global warming: Instead of holding a competition for themed games, why not reduce the number of Xbox 360 consoles produced, increase backwards compatibility between Xbox and Xbox 360 hardware (reduces material waste), increase the power efficiency of the Xbox 360, reduce packaging used for games, and have the top 3 entrants in the Xbox 360 Games for Change Challenge present via videoconferencing rather than fly them in?
  ‘World Without Oil’: Alternate Reality Game With a Conscience  
Posted 2007-05-01 by Tony Walsh
World Without Oil asks what would happen if we ran out of oil on April 30, 2007. The month-long alternate reality game, aimed at raising awareness of and promoting discussion about oil dependency, solicits the input of "all web users" in creating content. According to the official press release, the game was funded by PBS, and was produced by Writerguy. The project's "participation architect" was ARG rockstar Jane McGonigal, who says in the press release "Alternate reality gaming is emerging as the way for the world to imagine and engineer a best-case-scenario future... If you want to change the future, play with it first."

It's great to see this tangible example of productive play in motion. There's even an educational hook for teachers, providing suggestions for class activities and assignments--even for those educational environments with limited access to technology. I can see the game being a good way for schools to get involved, but I wonder how many participants outside of a formal education session will have the time and skill to create enough compelling content. As of April 30, about 400 people had signed up to play, so even if a fraction of that player base are good storytellers the game could be a raging success. Good luck to all involved, and congratulations to the teams behind the curtain for contributing to positive social change.
  Open Letter to the ‘Second Life Environmental Council’  
Posted 2007-04-18 by Tony Walsh
To the Second Life Environmental Council,

My name is Tony Walsh. I've been regularly writing about Second Life for 3 years. Last year I raised the question "Is Second Life sustainable ecologically?" This question was picked up by Nick Carr, who found that an avatar in Second Life consumes about as much power as the average Brazilian. Carr's controversial findings reached more people than my original question would have. Last night I attended a discussion involving Simran Sethi, who was in Second Life to talk about environmental issues and solutions. She hadn't considered what Second Life's ecological footprint might be, but said she'd look into it.

What is the environmental impact of an expanding virtual world served from thousands of high-end computers to hundreds of thousands of high-end computers around the globe? Although computers are getting more efficient as time goes by, Second Life isn't getting any smaller: Ironically, a Brazilian version of Second Life is due to launch April 23, 2007. If Carr's math is correct, Brazilian Second Life users will be doubling their average energy consumption.

I've reviewed your group's Events Calendar for Earth Month / Earth Day, and I don't see any events devoted to looking at the ecological impact of the platform from which you'll be talking about ecological impact. That seems a bit like organizing a drive-a-thon for pollution reduction without examining the emissions of cars. Clearly you know cars aren't an appropriate vehicle for pollution reduction: Is Second Life an appropriate vehicle for Earth Day events?

[Update: David Alexander of, and the point of contact for the SL Environmental Council, responds below]

Continue reading: Open Letter to the ‘Second Life Environmental Council’
[ Detailed Search ]
Clickable Conversation
on 4159 entries

Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'

yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please

Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool

Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please

It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy? get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock

Clickable Culture Feeds:

RSS 2.0 ATOM 1.0 ALL



Clickable Culture
Copyright (c)1999-2007 in whole or in part Tony Walsh.

Trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective owners. Comments owned by the Poster. Shop as usual, and avoid panic buying.