by Fabian Delago
Countless problems - countless opportunities
We live in a world where we have to deal with problems like global warming, poverty, overpopulation or natural disasters. Measures such as the shutdown of nuclear power reactors are implemented to cause less damage to the environment, electric cars are manufactured to counteract exhaust emissions, product packaging is made from sustainable materials, etc.
What can be done to make cities more liveable?
Cities are often agglomerations for such problems, as many people live there and are often themselves triggers for these problems. In order to improve the quality of life in cities and generally protect the environment, actions are implemented, such as the expansion of bicycle lanes. The inhabitants are encouraged to travel more often by bicycle than by car, in order to reduce exhaust emissions.
The Digital Twin
One answer to this is "digital twins". It is a true-to-scale virtual representation of a city with its own ecosystem. Buildings, living creatures, weather and other necessary aspects of a city are simulated in real time. In this way, possible measures can be simulated in a true-to-life environment in a resource-saving way without having to test them in the real world. This saves time, money and also protects against the negative effects should a measure not work. Furthermore, forecasts and analyses can be created to predict and prevent a disaster, for example.
The city of Helsinki has already reached the point where it has almost completely digitized its city. This is more than just a faithful reproduction of the original: The goal is to simulate a dynamic and living environment in which the behavior of air, water, light, pollution and living creatures is mapped. The digital twin is, for example, able to simulate wind and its effects.
Ingolstadt is also already busy creating a digital image of the city with the "SAVeNoW" project. This project focuses on autonomous driving and has simulated traffic situations, traffic lights and the like in order to be able to simulate the behavior of autonomous vehicles. In addition, the digital twin is also intended to improve general traffic safety and efficiency.
Where is the connect to gaming?
The value proposition and the dangers of virtual worlds
Video games are often viewed with mixed feelings: for some they are an escape into an alternative world to escape real life problems or simply to relax after a day at work, for others the danger of losing oneself in these virtual worlds and thus losing touch with the real world and the social environment.
In Japan, there is even a term for socially distant people: Hikikomori. These people do not necessarily live only in video game worlds, but they have withdrawn almost completely into their homes and limit contact with society to a minimum.
Learning in virtual worlds
Gaming has many positive aspects to offer in a social and economic context. It has been scientifically proven that playing games improves reaction time, coordination skills, coupling ability, creativity and other characteristics.
Cognitive learning has, for example, the Sim Racer Enzo Bonito to beat the real racing driver Lucas Di Grassi on a real race track in a race for time.
Minecraft as a teaching tool
Meanwhile, the game "Minecraft" is increasingly used by schools as a teaching tool. An organization called "MinecraftEdu"(https://education.minecraft.net/) was even founded to support teachers. The game can be used, for example, to build up maths understanding in a playful way. The tutor Oliver Planner, for example, uses Minecraft to teach area calculation.
Can gaming make the world a better place?
From the gaming industry's point of view, the commercial environmental idea is in any case advantageous. By acting in an environmentally conscious way, the reputation of the industry increases, e.g. among parents, and thus also sales. When children/young people consume environmentally friendly gaming products, this leads to increased environmental awareness among them. For example, Microsoft's new Xbox Series S gaming console no longer has a CD drive, which leads to fewer CDs sold and this in turn protects the environment from even more plastic waste. Interfaces between the gaming industry and other industries such as automotive can also be beneficial to both parties. Racing game developers can benefit from the experience of the automotive industry and vice versa. This may result in ideas and approaches that can be integrated into the real world.
But it's not just the gaming industry that can do its part to make the world a better place, gamers themselves can make a difference too.
Knowledge learned in video games can be transferred to the real world.
Knowledge is the only real Superheropower!
In games like Roblox, SIMS, Animal Crossing, Age of Empires, or Minecraft, millions of people every day engage in building and managing virtual worlds under clear conditions and succeed or fail in their simulation games - but there is one skill all players learn: Resilience and they all learn that it is better to do something and experience it than to leave it as it is.
What ideas are generated in gamers through the experience of such games and how can these be transferred to the digital twins of real cities?
With the Force of Disruption, we try to strengthen the dialogue between government agencies, the business community and the games industry in real campaigns and events.
Experienced gamers, such as eSports players, are familiar with the environment of virtual worlds and often have a high demand for realism in games. Together with their experience from virtual worlds and the motivation to achieve perfection, they form a solid basis for bringing about real change. The younger generation can also open up new perspectives with their unbiased creativity. For example, from a child's point of view, a car is not as important for getting around as it is for a working adult. Often a completely new perspective on things helps to develop new ideas or solutions to problems.
The aim of the project: to implement ideas for the future of mobility in the digital twin and thus make them tangible.
Each participating team can create its own world in Roblox and make the ideas a gamified experience. The best ideas will then be presented at the IAA 2021 and possibly even realized in the real world.
Who wouldn't want to see a new mobility concept 5 years from now and say, "Hi, That was my idea!"
The gaming world is a source of great potential that has hardly been tapped yet. If society realizes the possibilities there are and the benefits that can be drawn from gaming, then we could soon be living in a completely different world.