*Gasp* Chevron Video Game is Pro-Oil

A game about energy policy, made by The Economist and Chevron? This I’ve got to see. 

I missed this when it first came out, but yesterday I saw a full-page ad for Energyville in an old copy of Wired. I got to chatting about it with Adrian Hon. Here’s how it went . . .

11:01 AM

Me: By the way, have you seen this?
Haven’t had a chance to play it yet
 I just saw a full-page ad for it in an old copy of Wired.
It’s the Economist and Chevron working together
interesting . ..
adrian.hon: Yeah, I did see it
me: Have you played it?
adrian.hon: Briefly
11:02 AM
I thought it was pretty simple
It looks really nice
I think it’s also pretty biased
11:04 AM
me: I just think it’s interesting that The Economist and Chevron are behind something like this.
Shows some admirable strategic forethought, I think
The Economist FTW and all that
adrian.hon: Yeah, it’s not a bad idea
11:07 AM
me: LOL!
I just played the first level.
Trying to make everything with non-carbon sources
nuclear, solar, biomass . ..
‘Warning! Your city needs Petroleum! Cars can’t run without it!”
This game is funded by . . .
. . . oh, yeah, one of the world’s largest oil companies.
adrian.hon: Yeah, that’s what I meant by bias
me: Yeah
adrian.hon: I was pretty shocked
me: I am totally blogging this.
adrian.hon: I’m keen on seeing what random events you get
me: OK – I’ll let you know.
11:11 AM
Me: Ah! Bastards!
By 2015, solar cells were 50% more efficient
So I bought loads to power my city through 2030
And then, in 2021, “an increased number of cloudy days reduces the effectiveness of your solar cells.”
adrian.hon: Yeah
In 2015, I got told ‘Wind doesn’t work as well as you’d thought’
And in 2030, I got ‘Nuclear power is really safe’
It just seems totally arbitrary
me: I got the nuclear thing, too
I wonder if Chevron is involved in the nuclear industry?
adrian.hon: Maybe

In all, I think it’s actually a pretty good game – good design, simple, makes a point. The gameplay is essentially ‘SimCity Express’: you have a city to power, and all you get to do is pick the power types that will make it run. You don’t even get to site the plants. But still – there’s a good procedural lesson there, and I think the basic gameplay is sound. It makes a point, too – we need more oil. Hardly surprising, coming from Chevron, but what interests me is that the game makes the editorial point procedurally, through the fabric of the game, instead of the text and images that surround it.

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