Game Change Rio: Interview with Matthew Herren and Sebastian Stier

Matthew Herren and Sebastian Stier run CodeSustainable, the company which developed Game Change Rio. Biovision launched this game which is based on Facebook together with the Millenium Institute in order to mobilize young people for Rio 20. We recently met the two for an interview.

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What’s your mission with CodeSustainable?

Our mission is to create entertaining serious social games based on real world models. We try to combine interesting topics with proven simulation models, which are also used by policy makers, to create entertaining games.


When did you start working on Game Change Rio?

We started working on Game Change Rio in the middle of January. With the goal to launch the game by the end April, we set some pretty high goals for ourselves! Building a game is more than fun and games (pun intended!). Game Change Rio is the culmination of not just Sebastian and Matt, but also a dedicated team of software engineers, graphic designers and modelers. All hands accounted for — it has has taken about 10 of us four months of work to bring this to you. We hope you enjoy it!


Can you describe the scientific background of the game?

Game Change Rio is built on top of the Green Economy Model, developed by the Millennium Institute and commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The model is built upon a number of sectors: energy, manufacturing, transport, buildings, waste, agriculture, fisheries, オンライン カジノ water and forests. Based on a theory called System Dynamics, all of these sectors are linked, and effects of policies are seen throughout all sectors. The model has over 5,000 indicators, and with the 125 policy cards developed for the game there are over 100 million possibilities to play the game.


How did you proceed in terms of design and programming?

First step is a rough game design where you decide on core game play and game mechanics. After that the engineers can already start to implement the basic features in the background. Then user interface design can start and all the graphics are produced. Parallel to all of that happens the integration of the simulation model. Finally all the pieces come together and it is time to test, bugfix and balance the game.


What’s the power behind online games like Game Change Rio?

Combining proven simulation models with professional game design to create engaging games has the potential to educate players on a subliminal level while having fun. Additional we see Game Change Rio also as voice for all our players to policy makers. We believe that with the rise of new gaming platforms such as browsers, tablets and mobile phones there is a unique chance to easily reach many players around world.


Which online games do you play yourself?

Sebastian: Unfortunately I have hardly any time to play games at the moment, but I enjoy playing strategy games and build-up games as well as puzzle games.

Matthew: I have always been interested in simulation games like SimCity. When I was younger, I was a huge fan of SimAnt — but I don’t think it has been updated to be played online. Yet!

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