“A visual, immersive and physical experience with factual data will help the user in assimilating the information that the (often complex) data model is trying to convey.”
This is in contrast to the situation where merely showing the data representations may lead to the user forgetting the data after sometime or failing to realize the magnitude of the information it tries to convey. To be precise, an interactive guided experience of the data visualization (pertaining to facts climate change) with adequate user involvement will be the aim of the application. “Difficulty” here is a variable that is controlled by different statistics related to the increasing energy consumption.
Sample user scenarios –
SCENE 1: THE JUMPSTART
After the user starts the gadget application for the first time, a short video (~30 seconds) introduces the user to the problem of increasing energy consumptions and the environmental impact of that. The video culminates in a graphic indicating a sample statistic, say the rising CO2 levels vs. time.
The video provides enough knowledge to the user about what the graph is showing). After this follows a smooth transition from the video to a 3D version of the same graph; The user is depicted by his/her ‘Xbox avatar’. A pan and zoom reveals the avatar and the graph (which is on a much larger scale right now) as a running track. Another visual cue hints the player to jump and make his avatar touch various parts of the graph, avoid falling off trenches and dips (local minimas), switch sides when approaching cliffs (local maximas).
The player collects small factoids during the run which act as score multipliers and also give useful information. As the player moves along the time axis, the heights, cliffs and dips continue to worsen as is shown by graph below depicting fluctuating CO2 values. Ultimately the user has to put more and more effort to jump and reach the target. This phase ends by showing an extrapolated readings of the same graph in the future by depicting adverse predictions of the GHG levels laid out by IPCC and is intended to leave the player with a visual and a physical cue of the height he/she would have to jump to attain that level. Basically, its kind of like Temple Run, just that the player is actually jumping and that the track is generative and depends on the chosen statistic.
The following are some of the graphs are actual graphs based on the data collected by NASA and IPCC. The SVGs displayed near the avatar will be simplified versions of similar graphs. The area in yellow will be used to extrapolate the stages near the end of Scene 1.
Image Courtesy: (NASA: Goddard Institute of Space Studies: Graphs).
I am using these images for illustration purposes only. [Usage Policy]
 GHG: Greenhouse gases.
The further stages can have advanced generative maps/terrains that have a different goal each. E.g. A demographic temperature distribution graph (like the one below) can generate a terrain which would essentially be nothing but a contour plot and the user will have to navigate his/her vehicle through it. It goes without saying that a temporal sense or a timeline will be attached with the gameplay.
Making them Act
Rewards points like Xbox Gamer points and achievements for doing “real life things”.
This is where smart meters come in. A smart meter is a device in which appliances can be plugged to measure the electrical consumption by those appliances. Some of them are WiFi enabled these days which broadcast the electricity consumption statistics over a network. The local area network will then be used by the game to receive information about the player’s electricity consumption. Everytime he/she starts the game the savings would be a multiplying factor for the users score and hence the gamer points. Since the Xbox cloud is already a competitive environment, players would want to score more than their peers and unlock achievements like “Saved 900kWh this month”.