Designing a Real-time Strategy Game about Sustainable Energy Use



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This thesis documents the development of a video game about sustainable energy use that unites fun with learning. Many other educational games do not properly translate knowledge, facts, and lessons into the language of games: mechanics, rules, rewards, and feedback. This approach differs by using game mechanics in new ways to express lessons about energy sustainability.

This design is based on the real time strategy (RTS) genre. Players of these types of games must manage economic problems such as extracting, refining, and allocating resources, as well as industrial problems such as producing buildings and military units. These games often use imaginative fantasy elements to connect with their audience, but also made-up economic numbers and fictional resources such as magic crystals which have little to do with the real world. This thesis' approach retains the fantasy elements and gameplay conventions of this popular genre, but uses numbers, resources, and situations based on research about real-world energy production. The intended result is a game in which the player learns about energy use simply by trying to overcome the game's challenges.

In addition, a combined quantitative/qualitative study was performed, which shows that players of the game learned new things, enjoyed the game, and became more interested in the topic of energy use.