In an effort to cut into a slice of the Facebook gaming scene (which includes some 300 million daily users), Harrison Ford, Conservation International and developer Talkie are poised to release a new green-themed game called “Ecotopia“.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ecotopia will exist in a similar vein as the popular Farmville app – but instead of a plot of land for crops, users will instead inherit a city overwhelmed with pollution and urban decay. The goal is to reverse the damage and build a more sustainable society. From the article:
“Players can also connect with their Facebook friends, sending gifts to each other and visiting neighboring maps to perform helpful actions. Each month, new villains will be introduced to an ongoing story line that players will battle against to fight for a clean environment.”
In a new twist, if you upload a photo of yourself performing a green act, (and your friends confirm it as legit), you get bonus points to use in-game.
“That means if you car pool you get Sustainability Points, Money Savings, and Power Savings that you can spend to get further in the game world,” said Chris Swain, founder of Talkie. “You get a low number of points for doing a real world act, but we give you a big bonus if you also upload a picture of yourself doing it. Then you get the real points if your friends verify that you did it. This is a system we call ‘social proofing.’”
Ford sees the game as yet another way to involve people – particularly youth – in thinking about conservation and sustainability in their daily lives.
“I’m excited to be involved with Ecotopia because I see it as a great way to engage millions of people in our fight to protect our planet by taking action online and in our daily lives,” said Ford, vice chairman of Conservation International. “As we work to address the most fundamental issues facing humanity, I think Ecotopia will help get people involved in a way that is fun, educational, and meaningful.”
It will be interesting to see how people take to Ecotopia – especially since “games with a message” sometimes fail to attract an audience. If the “Sim City”-type experience is right though, coupled with some interesting “monthly villains”, it could take off.
Look for Ecotopia to launch April 4th on Facebook.