IBM is set to launch a free multiplayer online game, titled PowerUp, which challenges teens to save a fictional planet from ecological disaster. Part of the company's broader educational initiative, the MMO will launch February 16th, 2008.
The game features three missions for solar, water and wind power that must be solved, either by players alone or in groups, before various environmental crises destroy the planet. IBM says it developed the online world to support educators in engaging children on environmental issues, leveraging kids' interest in virtual worlds and games. Interaction between players is restricted to phrase-based avatar chat, IBM says, to ensure safety.
IBM says it took 16 months to develop the online game, with advice from nearly 200 teens in the Connecticut Innovation Academy. IBM's TryScience team from the New York Hall of Science worked with The Tech Museum in San Jose, California and the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the activities and game content.
The game will be accompanied by classroom lesson plans associated with the topics presented in the online experience, and will also include an interactive module to educate kids on 3D technologies used in virtual world building.
IBM international foundation president Stanley S. Litow said, "Innovation is the key to competitiveness in today's globally integrated economy, but just when we need it to skyrocket, interest in math and science has been declining in the United States. American competitiveness demands more interest in math and science by students. Virtual worlds and 3D are an unexplored resource in education. We asked our best researchers to incorporate the use of this technology into traditional educational curriculum."