By Lars Olsen
Congratulations, you have just been elected the mayor of ElectroCity! The fate of this city’s development is up to you, but “don’t let the power get to your head.”
In this flash-based game, you are tasked with creating a bustling metropolis from a small town in the countryside. You begin the game with few resources and endless possibilities. You can log every forest to make room for coal power plants that create abundant electricity, create campgrounds and amusement parks that attract new citizens, or focus on creating national parks and planting forests to decrease your environmental impact.
The goal of the game is to strategically balance population growth, popularity with your citizens, electricity supply, and environmental impact. After 150 turns, you will be graded in each of these categories based on your management decisions. To build a successful city, you need to gather ample income from taxing your citizens, utilizing the small stock market, and creating a surplus of electricity. The game is surprisingly fun and proves to be a real challenge!
New Zealand’s Genesis Energy developed ElectroCity in 2007 as a fun way to learn about the difficulties in managing energy production, environmental impact, cost, population growth, community happiness, taxes, and more. Genesis Energy wanted not only to increase public awareness of these challenges, but also “to spark an interest and lay an unbiased foundation for later learning.”
And ElectroCity has certainly delivered! In addition to being fun, ElectroCity does a great job of discussing energy sources from coal to geothermal. It is refreshing to see an energy company openly critique the hazards of each source of energy. Pollution and production from each energy source must be balanced carefully to make your decisions count. Every development option lists its pros and cons, which enables players to fully understand each decision. Yet, none of this information gets tedious as explanations are delivered in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek fashion.
The real feat is that this game is able to deliver its lessons in only 30 minutes! Players will watch their city grow as their knowledge on energy production grows in no time at all. Given the strategy involved in understanding development options, we recommend the game for ages 12 and up.
ElectroCity provides an engaging way to teach students about alternative energy sources and the challenges of resource management. Genesis Energy goes the extra mile in including teacher’s resources to accompany the game. Despite some minor flaws in the user interface and a lack of music, I would highly recommend this game to be used as a teaching platform.
Gameplay/Fun: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Educational: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Scientific Rigor: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Accessibility: Ages 12+
Platform: Web browser