Much of the effort around green design appeals to our rational mind. At a recent panel discussion at the SXSW festival in Austin, TX, I had the opportunity to explore the topic with several colleagues in the field of design and human behavior research. We’ve noticed that new products and interfaces created by companies like Google reveal spikes in home energy usage, finally alerting you to the fact that your dryer or refrigerator is a major drain on your monthly bill. But these new products may be asking too much of us, expecting that awareness of environmental impact naturally leads to moderation of our behavior.
One interesting trend looks to video games to save the day. Stanford Professor Byron Reeves told Living on Earth that online multiplayer games may serve a better opportunity to tap into our competitive spirit, and improve the likelihood of more eco-conscious action.
How would this work? Using the similar smart metering technology, characters in the game would gain points for real-life energy efficiency improvements. For example, a player might be directed to turn off lights, resulting in the game noticing and rewarding you with points. According to Professor Reeves, “if you can align that goal with, “let’s have some fun, let’s go on a quest, let’s have a team activity, let’s see who can do this better than others, let’s help each other, …we might have something special.”