Nokia’s latest game to hit the Windows Phone Store combines city management and eco-education, with an emphasis on gameplay rather than preaching. We talked to product manager Juha-Lasse Latikka about the motivation behind the title.
“We wanted to create a game that was fun to play, first and foremost,” says Juha-Lasse, “but then to help people do good and learn how to do more to help the environment as a secondary concern.”
“Nokia has a long history of involvement with environmental projects, so it was the natural space for us to be involved in when it came to creating ‘games for good’.”
Long time readers may recall Climate Mission 3D from 2011 which was produced by the same team. Three years on, the game still receives a considerable number of downloads every month from Nokia owners, so it’s clearly a game type that people want to experience.
Modern Mayor is a city-builder game in which you create houses, facilities and environmental features such as forests. The premise of the game is that when you enter, the city has fallen into a sorry state and is fundamentally toxic. You balance growing the city with actions to improve the environment to transform your town into a happy healthy haven.
So there are multiple measures to watch over: people and cash are a good thing, but you have to balance these against CO2 production and waste. You want your city to grow bigger, but also greener at the same time.
You can set your buildings tasks or build add-ons for them that will mitigate against their harmful outputs. A new building is going to create waste and greenhouse gases, but you can reduce that by building solar panels or instructing the residents to make use of rainwater, for example.
The game has a particularly interesting twist. You can buy badges for real money that speed up actions in the game and give access to premium buildings. But Nokia is donating 80 per-cent of the proceeds from selling these badges to real-life eco- and social projects across the world. You can see and vote for the projects you want to support from inside the game: Nokia will donate the money according to the players’ votes. The remaining 20 per cent goes towards supporting other projects, ongoing enhancements to the game and to the developer, a Finnish game studio called Kuuasema. “Helsinki has become a hub for very talented mobile game developers,” Juha-Lasse notes.
Purchasing badges is entirely voluntary: the game doesn’t prevent you expanding and greening your city in a very satisfying way unless you buy them. But if you do speed up the action with badges, you’re also having a positive impact on the world around you.
“So while it’s lots of fun and has excellent graphics, the game impacts on reality in two ways,” explains Juha-Lasse.
“Players learn about how to act in a more ecologically friendly way. But also, they can make a real impact on the planet by supporting NGO projects.”
There’s more to come from the game, too, with new features and buildings already in the pipeline, so look out for updates.
Have you played Modern Mayor? Let us know what you think in the comments.