Future Energy Networks and the Role of Interactive Gaming as Simulation

Danielle Barrios-O'Neill, Alan Hook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
32 Downloads (Pure)


As energy systems integration deepens to support the development of a cleaner and more intelligent energy infrastructure, it will be increasingly important for consumers to better understand their relationship to energy systems and to take more proactive roles in managing energy. Foregrounding the importance of systems comprehension, we argue for the strong potential of interactive games to be helpful in engaging consumers in sustainable energy practices, as they can demonstrate complex system dynamics through simulation-based experiences. Focusing on interrogations of engagement and social change posed by gaming theorists and designers, and using several flagship interactive games as points of reference, we discuss the elements of game space that make it capable of simulating complex systems and large-scale implications of energy decisions richly and effectively. We discuss social, technological, and narrative elements of game play, pairing a theoretical investigation with a practical exploration of how energy related games can link with data in the real world, with particular emphasis on the emerging Internet of Things. Our conclusions emphasise the importance of game simulation toward the longer-term goal of cultivating more complex patterns of interaction and cultural analysis around energy use; this is based on the assertion that energy, a social resource, must be managed in ways that are equally social.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date2 Apr 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Reference text: Atkinson, 2014
S. Atkinson
Beyond the screen: emerging cinema and engaging audiences
Bloomsbury, New York (2014)

Berger and Milkman, 2012
J. Berger, K.L. Milkman
What makes online content viral?
Journal of Marketing Research, 49 (2) (2012), pp. 192–205

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (206)
Bickerstaffe, 2013
S. Bickerstaffe
Building tech-powered public services
UK Institute for Public Policy Research (2013)

Bogost, 2009
Bogost, I. (2009). Persuasive Games: The Proceduralist Style, Gamasutra [Online]. Available from: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/132302/persuasive_games_the_.php Accessed 20.01.15.
Bogost, 2010
I. Bogost
Persuasive games: the expressive power of videogames
MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2010)

Boyle et al., 2011
E. Boyle, T.M. Connolly, T. Hainey
The role of psychology in understanding the impact of computer games
Entertainment Computing, 2 (2) (2011), pp. 69–74

Article | PDF (182 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (62)
Cass and Walker, 2009
N. Cass, G. Walker
‘Emotion and rationality: the characterisation and evaluation of opposition to renewable energy projects.’
Emotion Space and Society, 2 (1) (2009), pp. 62–69

Article | PDF (164 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (66)
Churchman, 1967
C.W. Churchman
Wicked problems
Management Science, 14 (4) (1967), pp. B141–B142

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (1)
Clark and Goldsmith, 2005
R. Clark, R. Goldsmith
Market mavens: psychological influences
Psychology and Marketing, 22 (2005), pp. 289–312

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (95)
Crawford, 1984
C. Crawford
The art of computer game design
McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, New York (1984)

Deighton et al., 1989
J. Deighton, D. Romer, J. McQueen
Using drama to persuade
Journal of Consumer Research, 16 (3) (1989), pp. 335–343

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (132)
Devine-Wright et al., 2010
P. Devine-Wright, H. Devine-Wright, F. Sherry-Brennan
Visible technologies, invisible organisations: an empirical study of public beliefs about electricity supply networks
Energy Policy, 38 (8) (2010), pp. 4127–4134

Article | PDF (473 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (26)
Eastwood et al., 2001
J.D. Eastwood, D. Smilek, P. Merikle
‘Differential attentional guidance by unattended faces expressing positive and negative emotion
Perception & Psychophysics, 63 (6) (2001), pp. 1004–1013

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (315)
ESA, 2014
Entertainment Software Association (2014) Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry 2014 Sales, Demographic and Usage Data. Available from: http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ESA_EF_2014.pdf Accessed 13.01.15.
Escalas, 2004
J.E. Escalas
Narrative processing: building consumer connections to brands
Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14 (1) (2004), pp. 168–180

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (205)
Evans-Cowley and Hollander, 2010
J. Evans-Cowley, J. Hollander
The new generation of public participation: internet-based participation tools
Planning Practice and Research, 25 (3) (2010), pp. 397–408

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (46)
Faiers and Neame, 2006
A. Faiers, C. Neame
Consumer attitudes towards domestic solar power systems
Energy Policy, 34 (14) (2006), pp. 1797–1806

Article | PDF (219 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (93)
Flanagan, 2013
M. Flanagan
Critical play: radical game design
MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2013)

Foster and Linehan, 2013
D. Foster, C. Linehan
Liking carbon: can social media play a role in carbon management?
Carbon Management, 4 (1) (2013), pp. 1–4

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (2)
Frasca, 2004
G. Frasca
Videogames of the oppressed: critical thinking, education, tolerance and other trivial issues
N. Wardrip-fruin, P. Harrigan (Eds.), First person: new media as story, performance and game, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2004), pp. 85–94

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (36)
Fredericks and Foth, 2013
J. Fredericks, M. Foth
Augmenting public participation: enhancing planning outcomes through the use of social media and web
Australian Planner, 50 (3) (2013), pp. 244–256

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (11)
Gabrys, 2014
J. Gabrys
Programming environments: environmentality and citizen sensing in the smart city
Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 32 (1) (2014), pp. 30–48

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (31)
Gee, 2013
J.P. Gee
Learning systems, not games
Texas Education Review, 1 (2013)

Grant, 2012
Grant, R. (2012). ‘After saving people $416.5 M in energy bills and 3.7B kilowatts, Opower files to go public.’ Venturebeat. Avaiable at http://venturebeat.com/2014/02/12/after-saving-people-416-5m-in-energy-bills-and-3-7b-kilowatts-opower-secretly-files-to-go-public/ Accessed 26.01.15.
Gubbi et al., 2013
J. Gubbi, R. Buyya, S. Marusic, M. Palaniswami
Internet of things (IoT): a vision, architectural elements, and future directions
Future Generation Computer Systems, 29 (7) (2013), pp. 1645–1660

Article | PDF (2284 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (568)
Gungor et al., 2011
V.C. Gungor, D. Sahin, T. Kocak, S. Ergut, C. Buccella, C. Cecati, et al.
Smart grid technologies: communication technologies and standards
IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics, 7 (4) (2011), pp. 529–539

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (555)
Gyrd-Jones and Kornum, 2013
R.I. Gyrd-Jones, N. Kornum
Managing the Co-created brand: value and cultural complementarity in online and offline multi-stakeholder ecosystems
Journal of Business Research, 66 (9) (2013), pp. 1484–1493

Article | PDF (252 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (13)
Haggett, 2014
C. Haggett
Planning and persuasion: public engagement in renewable energy decision-making
P. Devine-Wright (Ed.), Renewable energy and the public: from NIMBY to participation, Routledge, Lond (2014)

Haggett, 2009
C. Haggett
Implications of alternative mitigation responses: renewable energy
C. Lever-Tracy (Ed.), Handbook of climate change and society, Routledge, London (2009)

Hayles, 1999
N.K. Hayles
How we became posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics
University of Chicago Press, Chicago (1999)

Hayles, 2007
N.K. Hayles
Intermediation: the pursuit of a vision
New Literary History, 38 (1) (2007), pp. 99–125

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (10)
Henderson, 2013
B. Henderson
Rethinking the internet of things: a scalable approach to connecting everything
Apress Publishing, New York (2013)

Krätzig and Warren-Kretzschmar, 2014
S. Krätzig, B. Warren-Kretzschmar
Using interactive web tools in environmental planning to improve communication about sustainable development
Sustainability, 6 (1) (2014), pp. 236–250

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (6)
Kroposki et al., 2012
B. Kroposki, B. Garrett, S. Macmillan, B. Rice, C. Komomua, M.O. Malley, et al.
Energy systems integration a convergence of ideas. Springfield
National Renewable Energy Laboratory & U.S. Department of Commerce, VA (2012)

Lancy, 2015
Lancy, D.F. (2015). Mapping the Landscape of Children’s Play. Utah State University Digital Commons: Sociology, Social Work & Anthropology.
Mayer et al., 2004]
I. Mayer, L. Carton, M. de Jong, M. Leijten, E. Dammers
Gaming the future of an urban network
Futures, 36.3 (2004) (2004), pp. 311–333

Article | PDF (1150 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (20)
McDowall, 2014
W. McDowall
Exploring possible transition pathways for hydrogen energy: a hybrid approach using socio-technical scenarios and energy system modelling
Futures, 63 (2014), pp. 1–14

Article | PDF (468 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (7)
Miller, 2010
P. Miller
The smart swarm: how to work efficiently, communicate effectively, and make better decisions using the secrets of flocks, schools, and colonies
(2nd ed.)Avery, New York (2010)

Murray, 1998
J. Murray
Hamlet on the holodeck: the future of narrative in cyberspace
MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts (1998)

Nakarado, 1996
G.L. Nakarado
A marketing orientation is the key to a sustainable energy future
Energy Policy, 24 (2) (1996), pp. 187–193

Article | PDF (1025 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (17)
Nest, 2015
Nest (2015). Works with Nest. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPdltu-93pM Accessed 25.02.15.
Owen, 2004
A.D. Owen
Environmental externalities, market distortions and the economics of renewable energy technologies
The Energy Journal (2004), pp. 127–156

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (33)
Paladino and Pandit, 2012
A. Paladino, A.P. Pandit
Competing on service and branding in the renewable electricity sector
Energy Policy, 45 (2) (2012), pp. 378–388

Article | PDF (208 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (10)
Parrish and Edelstein-Keshet, 1999
J.K. Parrish, L. Edelstein-Keshet
Complexity, pattern: and evolutionary trade-offs in animal aggregation
Science, 284 (1999), pp. 99–101

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (562)
Pierce and Paulos, 2012
J. Pierce, E. Paulos
Beyond energy monitors: interaction, energy, and emerging energy systems
Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems, Raleigh,NC: Association for Computing Machinery (2012), pp. 665–674

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (14)
Prothero et al., 2010
A. Prothero, P. McDonagh, S. Dobscha
Is green the new black? reflections on a green commodity discourse
Journal of Macromarketing (2010)

Reeves et al., 2015
B. Reeves, J. Cummings, J. Scarborough, L. Yeykelis
Increasing energy efficiency with entertainment media: an experimental and field test of the influence of a social game on performance of energy behaviours
Environment and Behaviour, 47 (1) (2015), pp. 102–115 [New York: Sage]

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (3)
Rittel and Webber, 1973
H.W.J. Rittel, M.M. Webber
Dilemmas in a general theory of planning
Policy Sciences, 4 (1973), pp. 155–169

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (1)
Rogers, 2010
E.M. Rogers
Diffusion of innovations
(4th ed.)Simon and Schuster, New York (2010)

Rogers, 2009
S. Rogers
How to crowdsource MPs’ expenses. the guardian
(2009) [Accessed 10.01.15.] http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2009/jun/18/mps-expenses-houseofcommons

Rowlands et al., 2003
I.H. Rowlands, P. Parker, D. Scott
Consumers and green electricity: profiling potential purchasers
Business Strategy and the Environment (2003), p. 12

Salen and Zimmerman, 2003
K. Salen, E. Zimmerman
Rules of play: game design fundamentals
MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2003)

Santovec, 2011
M.L. Santovec
Women, socialization and video games
Women in Higher Education, 20 (11) (2011), pp. 8–9

Full Text via CrossRef
Sheppard, 2011
D.C. Sheppard
Social solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation: cross cultural lessons from Denmark to the intersect the stanford journal of science
Technology & Society, 4 (1) (2011), pp. 67–91

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (2)
Sherry et al., 2006
J. Sherry, K. Lucas, B. Greenberg, K. Lachlan
Video game uses and gratifications as predictors of use and game preference
Playing Video Games: Motives, Responses, and Consequences, 2006 (2006), pp. 213–224

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (1)
Simmhan et al., 2011
Y. Simmhan, Q. Zhou, V. Prasanna
Semantic information integration for smart grid applications
J. Kim, M. Lee (Eds.), Green IT: technologies and applications, Springer, London (2011)

Spent, 2011
Spent (2011). Available at http://playspent.org/ Accessed 18.03.16.
Squire, 2003
K. Squire
Video games in education
International Journal of Intelligent Games & Simulation, 2 (1) (2003), pp. 49–62

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (2)
Srivastava and Vakali, 2012
Srivastava, L., & Vakali, A. (2012). ‘Towards a Narrative-Aware Design Framework for Smart Urban Environments Urban Mobility: State of the Art and Gap Analysis,’ p. 166–177.
Stephenson et al., 2010
J. Stephenson, B. Barton, G. Carrington, D. Gnoth, R. Lawson, P. Thorsnes
Energy cultures: a framework for understanding energy behaviours
Energy Policy, 38 (10) (2010), pp. 6120–6129

Article | PDF (612 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (77)
Strengers, 2011
Y. Strengers
Designing eco-feedback systems for everyday life
Proceedings of the annual conference on human factors in computing systems, Vancouver, CA, Association for Computing Machinery (2011)

Tsoukalas and Gao, 2008
L.H. Tsoukalas, R. Gao
From smart grids to an energy internet: assumptions, architectures and requirements
IEEE Deregulation Restruction and Power Technologies, 3 (2008), pp. 94–98

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (49)
Vasconcelos et al., 2009
E. Vasconcelos, C. Lucena, G. Melo, M. Irving, J.-P. Briot, V. Sebba, et al.
A serious game for exploring and training in participatory management of national parks for biodiversity conservation: design and experience
2009 VIII Brazilian Symposium on Games and Digital Entertainment, Rio de Janeiro, BR (2009), pp. 93–100

Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus
Vervoort et al., 2010
J.M. Vervoort, K. Kok, R. van Lammeren, T. Veldkamp
Stepping into futures: exploring the potential of interactive media for participatory scenarios on social-ecological systems
Futures, 42 (6) (2010), pp. 604–616

Article | PDF (936 K) | View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (22)
von Stackelberg and Jones, 2014
P. von Stackelberg, R.E. Jones
Tales of our tomorrows: transmedia storytelling and communicating about the future
Journal of Futures Studies, 18 (3) (2014), pp. 57–76

View Record in Scopus | Citing articles (2)
Wark, 1994
M. Wark
Virtual geography: living with global media events
University Press, Indianapolis, IN: Indiana (1994)

Walker et al., 2010
Walker, G., Cass, N., Burningham, K., & Barnett, J. (2010). Renewable Energy and Sociotechnical Change: Imagined Subjectivities of ‘the Public’ and their Implications.
Weber, 2010
R. Weber
Internet of things
Springer, Zürich, Berlin (2010)

World Without Oil, 2007
World Without Oil, [website]. San Jose, CA: Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 2007. http://worthwithoutoil.org (accessed 25 March 2015).

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013). Run This Town [Game].

Brøderbund Maxis (1989). SimCity PC [Game].

Channel 4 (2014). Reverse the Odds iOS [Game].

Electronic Arts Maxis (2000). The Sims PC [Game].

Eklund, K., and Writerguy (2007). World Without Oil [Game].

Formula D Interactive. Eskom Energy Planner (2013) PC [Game].

Guardian Group (2009) Investigating Your MP’s Expenses [Web]

InterFuel, LLC. (2006). Darfur is Dying [Web].

McKinney, (2011) Spent [Web].

Pande V., and Pande Laboratory (2000). Folding@home [Game].

Pollotta, T. (2010). Collapsus [Web/film].

Red Redemption, Ltd. (2011). Fate of the World: Tipping Point PC [Game].

Supercell (2012) Clash of Clans [iOS].

Zynga, (2009). Farmville [Facebook].

Zynga, (2009) Mafia Wars [Web].


  • energy networks
  • sustainability
  • video games
  • data
  • simulation
  • systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Future Energy Networks and the Role of Interactive Gaming as Simulation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this