We all know how much emphasis is being placed on green energy strategies these days. The folks over National Geographic recently teamed up with GE Power & Water and the Center for Science to release Plan It Green: The Big Switch, a new cloud based online gaming community where students come together to learn more about the importance of recycling and how eco-friendly habits that can help save our environment.

Plan It Green’s goal is to help students learn about the management of time and resources while socially interacting with others in a city building simulation game. These initiatives are all part of this game and form part of an even bigger strategy. The Connect! Transform the Future initiative, a national campaign designed to engage, enlighten and educate the nation’s youth in a conversation about the future of energy.

Using Plan It Green

Much like big-budget video games like SimCity, Plan It Green allows you to create your very own virtual city and name it as you please. They have made the signup process an easy one by allowing students to login using their Facebook, Google or Twitter accounts. After log-in in you are presented with a very intuitive and user friendly interface that helps you get going right away. If you are not a gamer, do not worry the game prompts you to watch a tutorial the first time you log-in. There is a news section where players can view “On This Day in Eco-History” and learn more about important characters in history, energy saving and eco-friendly tips. A reward system is also in place and players qualify for gifts after they have reached Level 5 of the game. The mesaging service allows you to receive messages from other players and friends throughout the community.

The game was developed in partnership with WYSE Games, and it looks and feels like a Sims clone with an eco-friendly theme. This game is designed to promote the competitive spirit in our students while pitting them against other city “majors” and students for the highest city ranking award. Plan It Green: The Big Switch provides valuable educational lessons about energy conservation and the use of alternative means of energy that will help preserve our environment for generations to come. It also makes use of social media to promote awareness and collaboration with regards to current social issues affecting our world.

The developers did not spare any details, and there is a FAQ section where you can learn more about how to use the game and all of the different features in it. Finally, they included a Help section within the game to send the developer messages asking for new features or just to provide feedback about your experience with Plan It Green. One drawback I saw while testing the game is that it is Flash based, meaning if you want to access the game from your iPad or another tablet that does not support Flash you will need to use an App to access the Game.

I recommend using the Puffin Browser on iOS if you plan on going that route. Head over to planitgreenlive to learn more about Plan It Green: The Big Switch and to get started playing this amazingly fun and instructional game.