According to the second largest US automaker, video game developers should embark on a journey to solve the real-world urban transportation problems by creating online games that tackle such issues.
During the trade fair Gamescom, the company unveiled its Ford Smart Mobility Challenge, which aims to gather the “brilliant ideas” of the gaming community to spur positive modifications in the behavior of commuters and also assist transport providers with new ways of planning their services to increase efficiency. “Games are mainly about rules and mechanics. These are the ingredients that help us to organize the digital world,” comments Bjoern Bartholdy, professor for media design and co-director, Cologne Game Lab, who assisted Ford in setting up the competition. “So making games helps us to understand complex systems – and mobility has become a very complex system. The idea is to apply patterns that we know from digital games to help travelers navigate through this complex system,” he added. Ideas for entries into the competition included games that could offer rewards to the commuters that walked or cycled in fine weather and connected them to car-sharing services or under-utilized routes duing adverse weather.
“Most people are stuck in mobility patterns around the routes and modes of transport they use around cities,” explains Will Farrelly, who deals with user experience innovation for Ford Smart Mobility. Ford’s own studies pointed out that people don’t want just to arrive on time, but also place higher value on the quality of the journey. The purse prize for the winners is of 10,000 euros ($10,900) and the possibility of company investment if the idea is sound.