How fun can sustainability be? ElectroCity brings decisions about green living into a simulator webgame that, while slow at first, teaches realistic lessons while you have fun in the city you get to run.

ElectroCity Logo

"Easy to play, hard to master"

Those weighty words jump out at me from the instruction page for a stimulating simulator webgame, ElectroCity. Why?

Though the game is targeted to school students, the idea behind it plus the fact that real-world sustainable living, too, is "easy to play, hard to master," stirred my interest enough to send me reading through the how-to and starting my own town, Coziville.

What's the big idea?

“We recognise the importance of sustainable energy generation, energy efficiency and environmental management. We want to help people think about these subjects laterally, and what better way than to experience them first-hand and see the impacts of your decisions,” says Genesis Energy Chief Executive Murray Jackson, whose company funds ElectroCity.

That is a big idea!

My Review

While definitely not the fast-paced game play you'd expect if you're a veteran of popular city simulator games (partly because, realistically, you start with little money so it's a bit hard to get going), this game does a lot for critical thinking and helping players think about the result of their choices. From the how-to: "You need to balance your city’s growth with its environmental impact. Your citizens need electricity and jobs, but they also love their clean green image. So you get to decide whether that forest should be made into a national park or logged and turned into an aluminum smelter." Sound realistic? It is.
ElectroCity Board Game

To play

Visit their site and, after reading the instructions, click "Start a new game," name your town, and start making decisions! Most relate to the balance between bringing in money and maintaining a pleasant (and sustainable) environment. All make me chuckle. (You can ban TV or set the town curfew at 8pm in order to save electricity... if you don't mind what your citizens think!)
If you're short on time, don't worry; you don't have to register or give an e-mail address, but when you want to save, you'll be given a code to enter when you get back.

... and you?

Your turn! Start your town and comment here what you think about it. Genesis Energy is considering funding a version 2 if there's enough interest, and they'll take into account user suggestions for an improved ElectroCity. And if you make it to the scoreboard, share your town name so we can go check it out!

If you know of another resource for teaching kids (and us not-so-kid-like people) about energy and sustainability, share it here. I'd love to check it out!