A few days ago I spoke to Dan Norton of Filament Games. Their game, Energy City, is an interesting take on how we can teach energy use and conservation. I asked Dan how they came up with the concept of the game and what lessons they were hoping to pass on through their game.
“What inspired you to make a game like Energy City?”
Energy City was created in partnership with The JASON Project, which are a company that creates pretty slick science curriculum for middle school. They needed a game to partner with their energy curriculum, and were interested in exploring a game that covered sustainable energy, research, and growth.
We looked at games like Sim City, of course, but this game was less about experimenting with the City itself in the sense of urban planning, and more about balancing energy needs with research and the opinions of different stakeholders. So in some ways, Energy City is more systemically related to Civilization than Sim City.
“What lessons does Energy City aim to teach?”
Energy City’s main educational goal was to impart upon the player a sense of the complexities of sustainable energy research and production. The player is given the operating budget of a growing city, and asked to produce energy for that city as it grows. This involves new research into sustainable energy choices, shifting reliance on depleting energy options, and investing in new energy infrastructure.
The game of course doesn’t provide the answers for energy research and development, but we aimed to impart the crucial dimensions of the problems themselves, so that players can leave the game with a simmering stew of opinions and ideas that can be transferred into real world research and action.
“What other plans does Filament have in terms of making games? Are we going to see any iPhone/iPad apps soon? Perhaps some Alternate Reality Games or any other interesting projects in the pipeline?”
Filament’s embarking on a bunch of new stuff in the coming months, including a very exciting project to make some science curriculum in partnership with PCI Publishing, who focus on special needs students. We’re also on the warpath to make more games with the fine folks at iCivics. We’ll update our website with new projects as they emerge, so please stay tuned!
I’m personally a bit disappointed in Apple’s quest to crush cross developmental options for developers, but we love the potential and capabilities of iPod Touches and iPads in classrooms. Nothings on the docket just yet, but I would be surprised if we didn’t implement something for tablets soon, Apple or otherwise. Filament’s all about making cool educational game experiences, regardless of software platform or hardware.
To find out more about Dan Norton’s projects, head FilamentGames.com.
You should check out another great interview I did with Kaila Colbin of MiniMonos.com here.
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