Play the Energy Game

Fans of Sid Meier’s classic video game Civilization are framiliar to the challenge of designing an entire society, God-like from above. Fans of energy policy can now experience a streamlined version of that thrill via Chevron’s website. Their game, Energyville, allows players to build different energy sources to power a fictional city of 3.9 million, then assesses their security, economic and environmental impacts of the fuel mix they selected.

When I played, I started by stocking up on politically correct renewable sources, seeing how low I could get my environmental impact score. Since energy companies these days are trying hard to get you to forget that their main business is still oil, I assumed Chevron’s little game would reward me for being so progressive thinking. The scenario, however, was honest enough to remind me that I would need at least some petroleum to power the cars and other vehicles in the little metropolis I had named Awesome City.

The game is actually played in two rounds – one allocating the fuel mix for 2015 and a second round extending the time line to 2030. A handful of events are described between 2015 and 2030 which end up changing the value and score of the various fuel types. In one case, hydroelectric generation technology becomes more efficient, thus making it a more attractive option. That makes sense. In another, however, a tersely described nuclear accident (in some other city, assumably) raises “safety concerns” about nuclear energy, thus raising its environmental impact score. I’m not so sure about that calculus.

After the game you get a score and are asked for some basic demographic information so that you can be ranked in your most significant statistical cohort, in addition to the entire universe of players. That way you can see that, even though you rank below average in the overall standards, when playing against Nigerians in the banking industry, you do pretty well.

So go forth and design your own personal energy future. The city you power may be your own.