Working at Foursquare I am constantly thinking about how game mechanics influence real life.
I recently rented a car and chose a Toyota Prius, a hybrid car, for environmental and financial reasons but also to experiment with the “game” you play with the car while driving.
You see, the Prius actually has an optimized way of driving it, which it displays in real time in the dashboard of the car.
I dare to call it a “game” because how you drive the car, interact with both the brakes, accelerator, and coasting all have a direct impact on your MPG (miles per gallon) which is displayed at all times.
This first view is basically while pressing on the accelerator which obviously powers the drivetrain and spins the tires, but also, takes power from the battery. Notice that the Engine and Electric Motor are both powering the driving but the engine has a RED arrow while the Elec.Engine has a YELLOW arrow. Power is also being drawn from the battery.
MPG = 27.3
Next up is what I call “optimized coasting” which is basically maintaining your speed with your foot on the gas, but not pressing down too much. This works at most speeds in highway driving and slow roads.
Notices that the Engine is powering the wheels in RED as well as the Elec.Motor, but the motor is also recharging the batter in YELLOW.
MPG = 39.7
Next up is what I call optimized driving conditions for you, the environment, and the motor.
Notice that the wheels are powering the Electric Motor and passing that power back to the battery as well – all in GREEN. These are ideal driving conditions and usually occurs at time of not pressing the accelerator, or braking.
MPG = 99.9
This is certainly by no means meant to be a scientific experiment, but it is interesting to see the results. For starters, I drove about 200 miles and used 50% of the tank of gas. Upon fill up it was $20.00 for half the tank (so at $3.00 per gallon thats about 6.6 gallons of gas)
Did this impact my driving? Definitely.
I was encouraged to have the GREEN lines lit up as much as possible (where possible – I still drove normally) but when they showed up I felt like I was “winning” at driving.
Introducing data, where it is usually not available, can have an impact on human behavior.
You can see the impact of such experiments by checking out the Fun Theory (from Volkswagon)
My favorite of which is below
It asks the question – what happens when you make stairs next to an escalator more fun?