PlanItGreen: An Environmental Browser Game
PlanItGreen: The Big Switch, developed by Wyse Games, with National Geographic, GE and the Center of Science, is an environmentally focused free browser game. Players develop and manage a city, pursuing individual goals while competing against friends to make citizens happy and make an environmentally sustainable city.
PlanItGreen: Organic Farms and Energy Creation
Players can log in with Facebook (and, like all good social games, decide when and what PlanItGreen will post to a Facebook wall) or make an account. Players earn coins from buildings in their new city of Greenville, and can save up these coins to spend building new additions to the city, which include everything from homes to retail outlets to organic farms to energy creation. Each choice affects the city, and players will balance the needs of their citizens. As the game progresses, players can learn about new energy and tech, and apply it to to their cities.
In many ways, PlanitGreen is a sweet citybuilder social game. The game uses the familiar format of buildings and improvements, and as players make green choices, the look and feel of Greenville changes. Cute little residents can be seen tending gardens or riding bikes, once they have gardens and bike paths.
Players — I mean, Greenville mayors — need provide housing and infrastructure for their residents. That means constructing buildings in four categories: Residential, Commercial, Recreation and Facilities. Development of certain buildings and green energies unlocks new options, creating a tech tree. This is resembles a green energy version of the Civ research tree, and the implications for clean energy development are quite clear. Like Seth Alter’s indie NeoColonialism, PlanItGreen uses an engaging simulation to educate players on relationships and ecosystems.
One type of housing, a Zero Energy Home, doesn’t need to be upgraded. Any social game players knows the value and importance of a construction that doesn’t need further upgrades and repairs! And the value of a house that won’t cost anything after building translates well for PlanItGreen’s environmental message. Tying the mechanic to the game’s theme, so that the player’s goal is in line with game’s message, is a hallmark of a really good serious game.
Some buildings also produce energy credits as well as coins. These energy credits at first, look like another currency, but their real purpose is to become money. It’s a clear message — saving energy gives you extra money! — in a gameplay format. Again, any player familiar with building games knows the importance of producing extra cash for building and improvements!
Just for a change, I’m not writing about an indie today, PlanItGreen is a product of National Geographic, Wyse Games, GE and the Center for Science, and is a part of the Connect! Transform the Future initiative. Connect! Transform the Future is a national initiative for the education of American youth on the issues and future of energy.
Are you playing PlanItGreen? What do you think?