Using social network games to reduce energy consumption

This research is investigating the potential role of online social network based life simulation computer games as a persuasive tool for encouraging users to reduce their domestic energy consumption. Games such as ‘Farmville’ which runs on the Facebook platform have attracted millions of users worldwide who create simple virtual worlds where they interact with others and carry out everyday activities to earn tokens to spend within the game. Applying a User Centred Design (UCD) and in particular persona based design approach, this research is investigating why users find these games so enticing, the characteristics of those who play them, and the context in which they are played. Through an iterative UCD process, a life simulation game will be designed with users who represent a number of key ‘gamer personas’ in order to research how this sort of game could be used to encourage domestic energy saving behaviours.