The keyword “gamification” has been gaining increasing popularity in recent years, having practical and useful application, and support for a huge number of areas of life.
Impementing game mechanisms such as ranking, scores, badges, levels, awards, and virtual currencies in applications and websites that are not directly related to playing fields, the developers seek to stimulate public participation and acceptable social behaviour of society in various issues and areas of city life.
The concept of gamification, appeared in the last years, means the use of typical game elements in the context of another activity to motivate engagement and achieve certain goals.
Gamification has a lot of opportunities to influence our lives. Here are some of the key opportunities:
– to present new technologies;
– to acquire new habits in a light and pleasant form;
– to cope with the challenges;
– to improve daily processes, services and human experience;
– to increase engagement in processes and loyalty;
– to generate new interest in processes and technologies;
– to change human behaviour;
– to raise awareness and efficiency.
Currently, there are many apps and projects that try to apply gamification principles in different spheres; the energy field is one of them. As one example of group of tools for individuals, the JouleBug mobile application [https://joulebug.com/] aims to encourage citizens to be more aware and involved in city life, offering users a solution to a number of everyday tasks in a “green” way, such as turning off light bulbs, properly saving your computer, and so on. Users earn points by acting in a proper way by joining monthly calls and sharing energy-saving behaviour using the app. You can also get bonuses and extra points by sharing “great photos” (as defined by the app), comments, ideas, and information about sustainable behaviour.
The results are transformed into maps, virtual trophies, badges and medals, which are constantly updated and shown through various social networks, such as Facebook and Google Plus, as well as a public rating of the leaders of the application. Users are invited to compete with each other in an effort to be recognized as a “sustainable citizen” of a smart city. There are both global and local rankings; therefore, community-based initiatives are encouraged. According to the app’s website, “JouleBug Challenges can work for your organization: cities, schools, enterprises”. By clicking on the “cities”, the website states: “Increase the sustainability of your city with the help of JouleBug Challenges. Show how you care, motivate and participate in fun competition and make a big impact!” [Alberto Vanolo, “Cities and the politics of gamification”, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2017.12.021].
Another example of smart application working in the smart energy field is The Age of Energy, an award winning game, designed by City-zen partners [http://www.cityzen-smartcity.eu/home/games/the-age-of-energy/]. The purpose of this application is to implement the game to engage peoples to save energy. The great idea of such kind of gamification applications allows to create the easy approach and motivation of people in such important and necessary in every city processes as energy transition towards clean energy in cities – by the consequences of individual decisions and different strategies to ‘go to zero’ carbon emissions. By experiencing this in a game setting, you will be able to take better decisions in real life.
In turn, smartphone application Ecogator [http://www.myeconavigator.eu/mobile-app/the-mobile-app-ecogator/] focused on efficient energy consumption. It provides two operation modes: the shopping mode, helping to identify the most efficient appliances, and day-to-day mode that aims at increasing awareness of sustainable and efficient use of products and helping to save money and energy. The gamification concept consists in awarding points to the users for actions such as scanning appliances labels, using the comparison or calculation functions, reading tips and execute social media actions as sharing tips. The application evaluation in real life indicated that EcoGator was perceived as a good shopping assistant but less powerful as a tool for raising awareness. The application EcoGator is winner of the European Sustainable Energy Award 2015.
Social Power Game [De Luca, V.; Castri, R. The social power game: A smart application for sharing energy-saving behaviours in the city. In Proceedings of the AVI 2014 International Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces Workshop on Fostering Smart Energy Applications through Advanced Visual Interfaces (FSEA 2014), Como, Italy, 27 May 2014; Volume 27] is the representative of another group of gamification tools, aimed at exploring the potential of social interactions and game mechanics in driving people towards long term behaviour changes in the field of sustainable energy consumption. This approach seeks to provide a collaborative, action-oriented model for social learning in the context of a challenging neighbourhood-based energy-saving contest.
The idea of smart cities, which continues to constantly developing over the last two decades, includes many concepts and categories related to the city’s transition to sustainable, ecological, reasonable development of all spheres and directions related to the well-being of citizens and the environment, interaction, development and control of all structures of the city. This task is complex and multistage; it is solved with the help of the most modern technologies and innovations, gaming can become one of them. Knowing the rules of the game development, we can successfully build a platform that will motivate people to change their habits in the desired direction, which will promote the awareness and involvement of citizens in managing their own resources, choices and behavior. Up to 15 % of energy can be saved by simple changes in people’s everyday behaviour. And this is one of the most important conditions on the way to a smart city.
Institute of physical energetics (IPE), Latvia
The review has been carried out within the ERANet-LAC 2nd Joint Call on Research and Innovation, project name “An ICT Platform for Sustainable Energy Ecosystem in Smart Cities” (ITCity, http://fei-web.lv/en/itcity ), ID: ELAC2015/T10-0643, funded by the Latvian State Education Development Agency (VIAA).