Green My Place: Evaluation of a Serious Social Online Game Designed to Promote Energy Efficient Behaviour Change

  • Benjamin Ultan Cowley Cognitive Science, Department of Digital Humanities, University of Helsinki
  • Chris Bateman University of Bolton, Manchester, United Kingdom Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, CA, United States
Keywords: serious game, energy efficiency, behaviour change, evaluation study


The pressing problems of climate change and energy insecurity can both, to a degree, be addressed by improving efficiency and conservation of energy use. A key driver of energy conservation is the consumer market, illustrating the important need to educate citizens towards adopting more sustainable practices. This form of education has several requirements: it must be cost-efficient, scalable, optional or non-intrusive, and self-motivating. We argue that one format that meets these requirements is serious social online games. We describe one such game, Green My Place, which was deployed in the context of the energy-efficiency promotion EU project SAVE ENERGY. We describe two studies evaluating the game, which showed limited positive effects. Analysing the results, we argue that although observable effects might be limited, the format bonuses such as low cost and scalability imply the value of serious social online games, given a large enough population.

Author Biographies

Benjamin Ultan Cowley, Cognitive Science, Department of Digital Humanities, University of Helsinki
Benjamin Ultan Cowley is a Docent (adjunct professor) of cognitive science. He obtained a Bachelors in ICT from Trinity College Dublin in 2003, and defended his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, in 2009. Initial post-doctoral projects investigated psychophysiology and learning in serious games at Aalto University, Helsinki. Later at the University of Helsinki's Cognitive Brain Research Unit, he coordinated a clinical trial on neurofeedback therapy for attentional disorder, and obtained the title of Docent from the Cognitive Science unit, Institute of Behavioural Sciences. Currently working as a specialist researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, his ongoing research interests centre on high performance cognition, and include attention, game player modelling, and neurofeedback.
Chris Bateman, University of Bolton, Manchester, United Kingdom Laguna College of Art and Design, Laguna Beach, CA, United States

As a game designer, I am primarily known for the games Discworld Noir and Ghost Master, as well as my books Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames and 21st Century Game Design, both of which are course books here at Bolton. With my consultancy, International Hobo, I have now worked on the design, narrative, and dialogue scripts of over forty videogames, including several award-winning titles.

Additionally, I am the first person in the world to receive a PhD in the aesthetics of play, and have published a trilogy of books exploring the philosophy of imagination – Imaginary Games, which looks at games and art, The Mythology of Evolution, which explores scientific questions, and Chaos Ethics, which challenges the idea that morality must be conceived as ‘law’.


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How to Cite
Cowley, B., & Bateman, C. (2017). Green My Place: Evaluation of a Serious Social Online Game Designed to Promote Energy Efficient Behaviour Change. International Journal of Serious Games, 4(4).

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