IBM is launching a free multiplayer online game that challenges teenagers to help save the planet “Helios” from ecological disaster.
The game is part of IBM’s TryScience initiative and will be launched at Engineer’s Week 2008 opening on February 16 in Washington, D.C.
The game, which can be played alone or together with othr gamers, features a planet in near ecological ruin where three exciting missions for solar, wind and water power must be solved before sandstorms, floods or SmogGobs thwart the rescue.
As co-chair of this year’s Engineer’s Week, an annual effort to promote engineering careers to students across the world, IBM devised the 3D virtual game to engage kids and educators in engineering, energy, and diversity awareness.
Online video gaming is on the rise, with kids spending greater amounts of time online in fantasy play. PowerUp aims to use kids’ interest in fantasy virtual worlds to encourage them to learn about engineering principles by riding over rugged mountains in buggies to build solar towers or searching through grim junk yards to repair wind turbines.
They will also learn about energy conservation by the choices they make in completing their missions. The game also features non-player characters that represent a diverse cross section of the population, to be role models to encourage every young person to consider a career in engineering and they act as guides for the game.
“Learning through games and simulation is the way to engage tech-savy students today,” said Michael Mino, Director, Center for 21st Century Skills @ EDUCATION CONNECTION. “If we have any hope of saving the “real world from real problems,” we must embrace teaching students through computer games and virtual simulations.”
IBM innovators applied their knowledge in 3D and virtual worlds to develop the game in about 16 months. Nearly 200 teens in the Connecticut Innovation Academy served as advisors to IBM researchers during the game development. The TryScience team from the New York Hall of Science worked with The Tech Museum in San Jose, California and the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the activities and game content.