What is ElectroCity?

ElectroCity is an online computer game that simulates, in a very simplified way, energy management in New Zealand. ElectroCity allows players to create their own city and explore different approaches to energy and the environment. It is educational and fun.

How much does it cost to play?

Nothing. The game has been funded by power company Genesis Energy and is being released for free.

How long does a game last?

Cities need to be managed for 150 turns, after which your achievements are scored. Played quickly, a game can be finished in 15 minutes. If you're a teacher playing together with your class, the game could be played over two lessons.

What is a turn?

Rather than having your city change in real time (which can be difficult to manage) the game is divided into discrete turns. In each turn the game is frozen and you make decisions about your city, like what to build and where to build it. When you're happy, you press the Next Turn button and all your decisions are put into practice and then you go to the next turn. There are 150 turns in the game.

Can a city be saved half way through?

Yes. If you want to save a game, just hit 'save' and we'll send you a unique City Code. When you want to play again, just load it from the homepage using your City Code.

How can the game be integrated into a lesson?

We've kept ElectroCity as flexible as possible, so teachers can use the game as they please. See Teacher's Resources for examples of lessons.

Can parents see what players have done?

Yes. Each finished city is open for public viewing and emails can automatically be sent to parents to get them to take a look.

Can I see what other players have done?

Yes. Each finished city is open for public viewing and you can see who made the city, if they belong to a school and you can even rate their efforts.

Is it easy to play?

Like all good games, it's easy to learn but there is a lot of complexity for more advanced players. To play, visit the site, select ‘New Town', choose a name and you're away. There's no registration to play. The game has a basic point-and-click interface. Click on some native bush and up come buttons like ‘build a national park' or ‘log forest'. That is how simple the game is to control. If you click ‘build a national park', you'll be shown some real-world information about national parks, as well as the game effects (pros and cons) before you authorise construction.

How is the game scored?

There are four categories and each one is scored between A+ and D-.

  • Popularity (how happy your citizens are)
  • Population
  • Environmental Impact
  • Security of Supply (avoiding blackouts!)

Your overall score is the average of these. To get the highest score you have to play the game in a balanced and realistic way. You need to listen to your citizens, provide jobs and electricity, balance self-sufficiency with cooperation, maintain a healthy cash flow and care for the environment.

Is there a "high score" board that everyone can see?

Yes, every finished game will be listed on the site on the ‘Finished Cities' page, in order of score.

Can I build an eco-city with little pollution? Can I build an industrial powerhouse?

Yes. Yes. Both are legitimate approaches and can achieve high scores in some categories and low scores in others. It's all about the town or city you want to build. For example, if you wish to try a green approach, a win might be considered any city with 50,000 people and an A rating in the environment category. Or you might focus on economics and go for the most money.

Is the site moderated for offensive language?

Yes. Anyone using offensive language in their city names or descriptions will be unable to share their city and score on the Finished Cities list.

Will there be help available?

Yes, the game has a help section and lots of advice while you play. There is also a 'How to Play' and a 'Feedback' section if you have a specific question or problem.

Who is Genesis Energy?

Genesis Energy is a leading generator and retailer of energy in New Zealand. It generates electricity from a range of sources including gas, coal, wind and water.

Genesis Energy has also launched Schoolgen, a programme which provides selected schools in New Zealand with the ability to generate a portion of their electricity from a renewable energy source. At the same time, Schoolgen aims to educate and raise the awareness amongst students, teachers and parents about renewable energy, electricity generation and energy efficiency. For more information on Genesis Energy visit genesisenergy.co.nz. For more information about Schoolgen visit www.schoolgen.co.nz.

Why has Genesis Energy funded this game?

Genesis Energy sees a wider public understanding of energy management - even at this simplified level - as crucial. The higher the public interest, the better the general understanding, the more informed the debate, the better for everyone.

Does the game have a political agenda or bias?

No. ElectroCity was developed by gamers with a love of SimCity, Civilization, the Sims and other popular 'civic simulation' computer games, rather than a political think-tank! The goal has been to represent reality as best we can, in a simplified and fun world. It's a game of pros and cons, trade-offs and balances. For example, you can build a nuclear power plant in your city. There are benefits, but there is also a downside and the decision to go nuclear is a tough one with no right or wrong answer. This game neither promotes nor ignores nuclear power, but instead provides a great sandbox to learn about the issue. Of course before you make the decision, you are shown all the in-game pros and cons.

Will there be future versions of the game?

If we get positive feedback, there's every chance that we will build a version 2 for next year. We'd love your help in making that happen.

Who is Lift Education?

Lift Education provides specialist consulting services across the education sector. Lift is built on a strong foundation of research, knowledge and experience in education with a clear focus on curriculum innovation.

Love it! How can I help?

Please give us any feedback and suggestions you have and tell other teachers about ElectroCity!

Hate it! It should work like this

Please give us any feedback and suggestions you have so we can improve the game.

If I'm a teacher, why should I register?

The main reason for teachers to register is to be assigned a Teacher's Code. This is a short password that you give your students so that whenever they finish a game they can enter your Teacher's Code and that game is associated with you and the school. Your details will NOT be given to anyone else, or used for anything other than ElectroCity.

So if I don't register…?

Your students can still play, but their finished cities will not be associated with a school.

What computer hardware is needed to play?

The game is normally played online. So any computer (Mac or PC) connected to the internet should be able to play. Even dial-up is OK. An 800x600 screen (or bigger) is recommended.

There will also be a version of the game that can be downloaded once and played later without an internet connection. This is a great back-up if your internet connection is unreliable.

Windows XP Download
Mac OSX Download

What computer software is needed to play?

Any modern web browser, Mac or PC. Internet Explorer 7 +, Firefox and Safari are all OK. You'll need Flash 8 or higher installed. Flash is a free, stable, safe and widely used plug-in that can be downloaded quickly from here: www.adobe.com

If you cannot install the Flash plug-in for some reason, you can still download and play an exe version of the game, but you will be unable to share your creations with the world.

I teach children but I'm not associated with a proper school. Can my students still play?

Absolutely, your students can play.

Oh dear, I have forgotten my Teacher's Code.

No problem, just click here.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. What's the catch?

There isn't one. The game is free. Any details you supply us will only be used for a handful of game-related emails. Any details students provide us will only be used to retrieve their saved games.

Why has there been a correction to ElectroCity?

We needed to correct the effects of nuclear energy. If you generate a lot of nuclear power, you will now notice a larger disapproval from your population!

How have the scores been adjusted?

Some scores from version 1.0 of the game have been adjusted downwards to reflect the correction.

Why is nuclear power included in the game?

When we were creating the game, we were faced with the dilemma of whether or not to include nuclear power. On the one hand, we wanted players to explore and be aware of all the options. On the other hand, we wanted the game to be a 100% New Zealand experience.

The objective of the game is to give players a base knowledge of energy generation, so they're better equipped to understand current and future debates. As nuclear and other forms of generation not currently used in New Zealand, such as tidal and solar plants, form part of this debate it was decided to include the option of nuclear power.

In ElectroCity, nuclear power has negatives - like all the other methods of generating electricity - including unhappy people, environmental impact, high cost and low flexibility.