Here’s the full excerpt from the excellent article from Mashable.
Whether they run on power cables or rechargeable batteries, video games have a codependent relationship with energy. So when a game asks you to think about the wheres and whys of your energy consumption, it’s sometimes tough not to ignore the messenger.
But energy provider NRG has made a thoughtful puzzle game that will make its players more aware of clean energy alternatives. Mobile game The Path to Luma puts you in charge of enabling clean energy solutions across a galaxy, though without the heavy-handedness of most edutainment games.
“The number one question we were focused on when coming up with this game was how to make it fun,” said Daniel Keyes, a senior solar analyst at NRG who originally pitched the game to his company. “We wanted people to engage, uninterrupted, and wanted to seem like it came from a place that was genuine. We care about climate change and changing the path Earth is on.”
“Our goal was to figure out how to get consumers to think more about energy and where it comes from,” said Sicily Dickenson, senior vice president and CMO of NRG. “10 years ago, people didn’t think about where their food came from; now there is so much choice available. The energy space right now is in that moment.”
The Path to Luma, developed by Phosphor Games, centers on a robot named SAM (short for Sustainable Augmentation Model), who’s sent out by his homeworld to revitalize planets that have grown brown and dreary from resource overuse. Each of the 20 planets SAM encounters have daisy-chained puzzles players must solve before they can return to their former glory, and the game’s complexity rises as you go.
There have been plenty of attempts to gamify causes, but Keyes and his team said they tried to stay away from those when designing the game. He said he was most inspired by simulation games of the past, like Sim City and its brethren — which were engaging while being subtly educational. The Path to Luma focuses on six energy technologies to provide different puzzle mechanics: wind, solar, water-powered, battery storage, waste-to-energy and carbon capture.
Dickenson said some of the technologies, like water-powered and carbon capture, are a blend of technology that already exists and that is being developed right now. She also said the game touches on the fact that some of the renewable energy sources, like solar and wind, are intermittent and need to pair with other power sources to succeed.
Considering it’s set on abandoned worlds facing energy crises, the overall tone isn’t bleak. Keyes said that is very intentional:
“We wanted to take seriously the risks we are facing, but we have a lot of confidence in our ability. We can achieve a lot in a very short span of time. The desire to stay away from a completely obliterated post-apocalyptic environment maybe spoke to our confidence in bringing clean energy tech to the forefront as quickly as possible.”
The Path to Luma is totally free, without any in-app purchases. Keyes said he hopes that by creating an engaging game with no barrier to entry, he can get more people to think about clean energy. Since NRG isn’t in every market, it wouldn’t make sense for the company to limit the game to its customers, or hope it brings it brings in new customers.
“A lot of people have choices to purchase clean energy, and a lot of people don’t,” Keyes said. “We want people to demand clean energy solutions from providers and policy makers. The technology is ready. It’s there, and if they demand it, the market will respond.”