Interactive games can encourage people to adopt solar energy, according to survey

Anokhi Kashiparekh

Trivia games are able to help people better understand solar energy through rewards and tactile engagement, according to Ariane Beck, a research fellow in the LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Beck, who studies political and economic change surrounding energy systems, spoke at a weekly energy symposium Thursday evening about how to use gamification, the use of design elements characteristic for games in non-game contexts, to educate people about solar energy.

As part of her research, Beck worked with a software development team to create a 15-question trivia game that seeks to teach users about various applications of solar energy.

“The main idea of this trivia-based game is to reach out to people and educate them on how effective the use of solar energy is as compared to water or even wind energy.” Beck said. “Games provide humans with the competition, motivation to attain goals and have an autonomy over their actions. They are better than tests or visuals since people don’t remember lists, but the stimulation from games provides them with an information that they can retain.”

Beck said preliminary results from a survey she is currently conducting show myths surrounding solar energy discourage people from fully adopting it. For example, many people believe they cannot afford to install solar panels, even though the energy savings pay for themselves over time, Beck said. Most industries incorporate solar energy into their business, but solar panels have not been widely adopted yet by consumers, despite the benefits, Beck said.

Venus Santos, an economics senior who attended the session, said she found the intersections of psychology, economics and energy at the seminar interesting.

“I am interested in energy and its relation with the economic factors that affect people’s perception on energy and its conservation,” Santos said.

Sindhu Maiyya, a energy and earth resources graduate student, said she thinks gamificiation is effective at changing how people perceive energy.

“The presentation was really helpful in a way that it taught me that gamification is a great tool to reach out to people,” Maiyya said. “It also demonstrated how solar energy is actually changing the way people live.”

Public affairs assisstant professor Varun Rai said more people are using solar energy options than ever before, signaling a shift in energy consumption trends.

“Solar energy has started changing human behavior and people are now slowly adopting the solar conversions,” Rai said.