OUT NOW: Power Up! From Hyper Luminal & Stirling Uni

New Eco Game Aims To Help Understand Human Decision Making In Climate Change.

Power Up! is a brand new free mobile game from the team at Hyper Luminal Games, working in conjunction with researchers at Stirling University, which aims to help scientists to understand real-world challenges involving energy, nature and people.

The game challenges players to manage the competing interests of energy generation, biodiversity conservation, and community prosperity across different world landscapes. By playing, gamers will directly contribute to cutting-edge scientific research.

Players will generate a global dataset of sustainable development decisions that can inform real-world decision-making. The team behind the game believe that Power Up! is the first example of a videogame that operates on the scale needed to engage a global audience in generating the essential data required to inform and assist real-world decision-makers achieve the United Nations SUstainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Sustainable Development Goals

Power Up! has been designed by scientists and game developers to understand how people make difficult trade-offs between different Sustainable Development Goals.

Players must make choices about the location and construction of hydroelectric dams, with consequences on both land and river biodiversity, as well as surrounding communities. What impact will player choices have across different landscapes?

As players manage different landscapes they will see them change. They’ll also be able to track how decisions on investing resources can boost energy generation, lead to greater biodiversity, and increased prosperity of communities. However, player’s choices can also cause these to decline and suffer…

“Power Up! directly links people, science, and decision-makers at the scale needed to tackle global challenges including the climate crisis. This is an important and innovative step forwards in sustainable development research and we’re absolutely thrilled by the positive feedback we’re receiving from players: a game that’s fun to play with real-world impact”

Dr Isabel Jones, UKRI Research Fellow – Stirling University

“Hyper Luminal was thrilled to have the opportunity to work on such an impactful project. We built on the incredible research done at the University of Stirling to produce a game that will make a meaningful contribution to our future sustainability choices.”

Stuart Martin, CEO – Hyperluminal Games

Real World Understanding

By playing Power Up! players will directly contribute to our understanding of how humans make difficult decisions about sustainable development. Data on in-game decisions are collected and scientists will analyse these data to better understand decision-making and how people approach different aspects of sustainable development. This is the first step to finding new, more equitable ways of tackling complex global challenges involving energy, biodiversity and humans.

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promote global economic and social prosperity while simultaneously seeking to protect the environment. All UN member states are signatories to the SDGs under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, pursuing one goal may be at the expense of another. For example, building a hydropower dam generates renewable energy (which is a goal, SDG 7) but building dams on rivers can negatively impact other goals focused on biodiversity and people’s homes, cultures and livelihoods. Such trade-offs and conflicts between SDGs and stakeholders prevent realisation of the 2030 sustainable development targets.

Power Up! Screenshot

As global decision-makers look to reduce fossil fuel use to address the climate emergency, they are looking at further hydropower development as a renewable energy source, with difficult decisions to be made about how to trade-off different SDGs. Delivering the evidence to inform and assist such decision trade-offs is critical to ensure equity and to minimise social and environmental harm. Currently, there is no platform to empirically collect and curate the sustainable development priorities of diverse local to global stakeholders, which are needed to provide the evidence for global sustainable development and to minimise conflicts and trade-offs between SDGs. 

More than 2.7 billion people play video games regularly and there are already several initiatives, such as the UNEP-led Playing4ThePlanet group, in which video game companies include, e.g., “green nudges” in games. Despite the potential, none of these initiatives link directly to large-scale research-led data collection, representing a missed opportunity to critically engage in solving global challenges by generating the large-scale data needed to inform decision making when trade-offs and conflicts run high.

The “Power Up!” game has been funded through a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship awarded to Dr Isabel Jones and “The Beacon Project” at the University of Stirling. The game was developed by Dr Isabel Jones, Prof. Nils Bunnefeld, Dr Brad Duthie and Dr Jeroen Minderman in collaboration with Hyper Luminal Games, Dundee.

Download Power Up!

Power Up! (Apple App Store)

Power Up! (Google Play)

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