Stanford Professor Byron Reeves thinks World of Warcraft can be harnessed as an energy-saving tool by attaching Smart Meter readings to gameplay goals.
Smart Meters monitor the electricity in a household and feed that information to power companies. By uploading it to WoW instead, Reeves thinks the game could become a tool to encourage environmental awareness.
Reeves went on radio show Living on Earth for their Green Gaming segment last Saturday to pitch the idea:
"So imagine that you're in your home, you're signed into [the] game… and you make a decision in the game to turn off the lights in an unused bedroom [in real life]. As soon as you do that, the Smart Meter recognizes that, sends the information through the network to your computer and your house [in the game] turns a shade of green that it wasn't before. And if I'm using less electricity, my team might do well. I get gold pieces and points… whatever the game designers think is fun. You get feedback in an entertainment game about what you're doing in the real world."*
Speaking to Reeves at his office this afternoon, he said the point of having Smart Meters as part of gameplay was to get gamers thinking about ways to be more energy efficient while letting them game.
I could get in on that – I usually play video games in a darkened house with the heater turned off anyway.
*Professor Reeves is aware that you don't have houses in WoW – he's either referring to a virtual house connected to the Smart Meter like the one in this video, or to MMORPGs in general where some let you own houses.
Living on Earth: Green Gaming [Living on Earth]