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New game aims to raise awareness of life in an oil town


The use of games and gamification for scientifically worthwhile endeavours has been on the rise over the past 12 months, with games developed to help improve our understanding of neurology or the genome.  Most of these games take a format whereby players are asked to complete certain tasks, which in turn go into furthering our knowledge and understanding of a field.

Such games form part of a growing movement that seeks to use games to deliver social good.  I wrote about this small but growing field back in the summer.  The latest game in this area to hit the web is called Fort McMoney.

The game is set in the Canadian oil town of Fort McMurray, and players are invited to explore the town, connecting up with various people from across the oil industry, environmental activists and residents of the town.  Through this process, the player gains an understanding of the environmental, social and economic concerns of the town and the townsfolk.

The game updates every four weeks to allow players to explore different issues of concern to the town, with a referendum held at the end of each week as players try to lobby and convince their peers to vote for them.  The results of the vote then decide how the game continues.


This past week for instance, the referendum question was: “Should taxes on petroleum products be higher?”.  The voting was pretty unanimous, with an impressive 78% of the 653,000+ votes wanting higher taxes in the town.

The follow up question in this weeks referendum is asking whether the oil from the town should be nationalised.  You can see from the voting figures that the game is certainly popular.  Will it change how people think about the region, or indeed how it’s governed in real life?  Only time will tell.  I’d certainly encourage you to check it out though.

Fort McMoney, a joint project by the National Film Board and Montreal-based Toxa and Franco-German TV network Arte, is available in English, French and German. It can be played on a computer browser or tablet and requires players to register with Facebook or Twitter beyond the first segment.

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