Game Changers

Competition Details


by James Noncek
Co-authors: Jolie Menzel

Populace is an online social game that shows players the positive effects of servicing a community and motivates them to do so both inside and outside of the game universe. Players are given a small portion, or “Community”, within a larger City. This City is made up of other player-controlled Communities, and its prosperity and well-being is in the hands of the entire player base.
Each Community contains a grid onto which players construct buildings. As the Community flourishes, a player is awarded more grid space and resources. The player is able to allocate the land on their grid with buildings, such as local businesses and houses, as well as recreational areas like parks. Community programs, such as soup kitchens and community gardens, can also be instantiated.
The Community has a statistic system to track progress. The stats include Environment, Culture, Economy, Population, and citizen Well-being. For example, creating businesses will raise Economy, but if these businesses are not instructed to use sustainable methods, Environment will suffer. Therefore, what a player chooses to construct in their Community will affect these stats and modify the overall look of their Community. The Community also affects the entire City: a Community with high Economy will share their wealth, but a Community with low Environment adds to a City’s pollution. The entirety of the City, then, is a product of all of the Communities within it. The City has similar stats to the Communities, and a large, viewable World Map will show how they look comparatively.
While players upgrade their Community in game, they can also do this with real-world activities. A community service program can register with the game, and when the player participates in this real-world program, they receive a code that can be entered into the game. The code grants the player with a relevant benefit in game, i.e. if the player participates in a program that plants trees in their hometown, the code they enter gives their in-game Community a program that plants trees and increases their Environment stat.
The real-world rewards will far outweigh what can be achieved solely in game, so as to motivate players to go out and do real-world activities. Therefore, Populace will not only create a virtual example of what community service and sustainability can do for a community and city, but will motivate them to make the changes they see on-screen into a reality.