Could Playing WoW Help Conserve Energy?

Could your addiction to World of Warcraft help green up the planet?

Possibly, according to Prof. Byron Reeves of Stanford. Appearing recently on the Living on Earth radio program, Reeves suggested that Smart Meters, which monitor household electricity usage, could be linked to WoW:

So imagine that you’re in your home, you’re signed into [the] game… and you make a decision in the game to turn off the lights in an unused bedroom [in real life]. As soon as you do that, the Smart Meter recognizes that, sends the information through the network to your computer and your house [in the game] turns a shade of green that it wasn’t before.


And if I’m using less electricity, my team might do well. I get gold pieces and points… whatever the game designers think is fun. You get feedback in an entertainment game about what you’re doing in the real world.

GP: There is, of course, no player ownership of houses in WoW, at least not at this time. The prof was apparently brainstorming possibilities that could be applied to MMOs in general. That’s an old screenshot of my WoW character, by the way…

Via: Kotaku

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  1. KaylaKaze says:

    Obviously you wouldn’t want to give anything useful for turning off lights or whatever, but there’s no reason why people who sign up couldn’t get a non-combat pet that changed color or shape depending on the SmartMeter status. WOW players do all sorts of stuff for non-combat pets.

  2. catboy_j says:

    Doesn’t that just mean you’ll wake up early? And While maybe it might be daylight when you wake up when I wake up early it’s fricken 5 am. During winter it’s cold and dark. Additionally I could open my blinds but I live opposed to a fricken slumhellhole that our windows intersect directly.

  3. Hannah says:

    If you want to save electricity, go to bed early — advice that the average WoW player (or internet addict like myself) will never take.  Seriously.  It’s not that hard, and we certainly don’t need technology to help us: we just need to stop being so damn lazy and develop some self-control.

  4. hellfire7885 says:

    Neat idea, but in the end, please don’t apply it to MMOs. People work to off set the balance of such games as it is.

  5. EvilTikiMan says:

    Hey guys and gals why dont you cut them a little slack, its just a idea, nothing more. It probably has not been fleshed out that much and Is in need of some revising, but everything starts with an idea. I am willing to bet that this Professor and possibly the people who she is working with aren’t big gamers so they aren’t aware of things that real gamers are. Is the idea silly to apply to some types of games (like MMOs)? Yes, 100% yes but the idea as a basic concept for other things does have some merrit.

    -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- Responsibility: Something that everyone has, but no one seems to want when something goes wrong. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

  6. Nocturne says:

    Unfortunately a game that required regular access to the sun didn’t work so well here in England.

    That’s not helping to conserve energy though, that’s just getting you out of the house, which just makes you a target when the Zombies rise.

    The best energy saving game I’ve played was Underworld: The Eternal War, after five minutes of playing I turned off my PS2 and TV and spent a bit of time outside finding somewhere to bury it that wouldn’t cause too much damage when it infected the earth around it, fortuntely there’s some woods at the back of our house. Birds die in mid-flight when they pass over where it’s buried.

  7. JustChris says:

    I don’t have green-guilt either, but I have those energy-saver light bulbs for reason that should be more universal among people- wallet-guilt. Come on, who doesn’t like saving a couple extra bucks on your electricity bill?


  8. Hitodama says:

    I turn off all my lights always…. Not cause of some stupid green-guilt crap, but because I’m a Vamp- err… I like the dark…

    This would be a bad idea in any game worth playing with people, imo. Too many strange factors. Why can’t you just get a stand-alone generator to power your comp while playing, that way the meter doesn’t know you’re using ANY power? We’d all have to buy generators or just suck.

  9. JustChris says:

    Well, I guess any single player games then. Boktai for the Gameboy Advance had something similar…the game wanted you to go out in natural sunlight so it would make it easier to kill the vampires.


  10. Nocturne says:

    MMOs is the wrong place for this, where you want it is games like Dead Space and FEAR 2, turn off all the lights when you play and you can have some extra ammo

  11. gamadaya says:

    What? So does he mean the game can send signals to the lights in your house? I don’t really understand this. Perhaps it would be easier and significantly less stupid if we all just turned off our lights to save money.


    Internet troll > internet paladin

  12. Overcast says:

    How many servers, switches, routers, are you going to keep up and running to coordinate all of this to ‘save energy’?

    Will it really be less than various lights left on here and there?

    People act like all the technological solutions are just ‘free’. The servers have to be made, powered on, running, maintained, along with backups going and devices on each ‘node’ (lightswitch? lol) powered on.

    Then once you look at all that, you’ll need more cooling in the data center this is all running in – any idea what the costs are on power and cooling for data centers? Obviously; that’s not taken into any consideration – just like people never consider where all that ‘electricity’ comes from that powers electric cars… on one end we have people saying "electric cars will save teh worldz!!" and the other end is saying "cut down on electrical consumtion, raaaaaa!!!" – can both of those happen at once? lol

    In the end, all that crap running 24/7 may well end up using MORE power.


  13. Austin_Lewis says:

    It seems more like this would encourage you to keep you PS3 turned OFF, which probably wouldn’t help cancer research.

  14. Joran says:

    I thought this was a cool idea.  If developers could find some way to harness the collective OCD power of gamers, it has to be able to do a lot of productive good.  Basically, imagine something like SETI@home or Folding@home but with the minds of gamers.

    Besides, it’d give me a great excuse to play video games: "Sorry honey, I’m busy curing cancer."

  15. Austin_Lewis says:

    Shit like this coming out of Stanford? No fucking way! 

    Also, I don’t want some game company rewarding people I’m playing against because they shut off non-essential appliances. That seems like something designed to fuck parents and couples over.  Do you have any idea how hard it is for people to get their daughters off of the phone and the internet?  How about stopping your wife from emailing people at her work for the information she needs to complete the work she brought home?  

    Now, I WOULD be fine with games like dead space making my lights flicker or something.  That’d be a new step in creepy.  But this, this is just idiotic.

  16. finaleve says:

    Sorry but that is kinda lame.  I could see that maybe affecting EXP, but buffs and all that?  THat would make the game extremely annoying in PVP.


    And I’m waiting for the game to have Guild Halls.  That would make everything in the game awesome.

  17. Godkarmachine says:

    I could just imagine imagine how raiding would be.

    "Hey, I need Might, not Wisdom!"
    "Ugh I have to head back to down for some reagents."
    "Well we wouldn’t have wiped if Eric had turned off all of the crap in his house!"
    "Sorry guys, I didn’t know we were raiding tonight, so I had the dishwasher going."

    Arena would be even more unbalanced when the teams start having 50 unnecessary things plugged in before a match starts, and turn them off all at once for some disturbingly powerful buff.

     – Stand back! I have an opinion, and I’m not afraid to use it.

  18. Arell says:

    No thank you.  I don’t really want my enemies in WAR to get buffs or whatever just because they turned off the digital picture frame in thier living room.  I also don’t want my gaming making me feel guilty about the environment while I’m killing harpies.

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