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photo by Lex in the City, via Flickr. Thanks Lex!An article by John Wilen in the Business section today talks about how airlines are slowing down to save fuel. Meanwhile, Gary Richards, our local reporter on commute and traffic, advises his readers to stop whining about fuel prices and slow down – by his calculation, dropping one’s speed from 75 to 60 mph is like paying 30 cents less per gallon at the pump.

These articles bring out another finding of the World Without Oil game – that oil = speed. Americans consume an inordinate amount of oil largely because we don’t like to wait – for the bus or the train, for example, or for that cool new weight machine we ordered online. 747s fly everywhere loaded with cargo that could be sent vastly more efficiently by boat or train.

But of course, paradoxically, we also don’t like to be forced to rush all the bloody time. WWO people were quick to pick up on this silver lining to the dark cloud. Here, listen as Avantgame explains it in a phone call from Berkeley – recorded during Week 17 of the Oil Crisis of 2007. Or download the MP3:

The Upside to Slowing Down, by Avantgame

Photo by Lex in the City via Flickr.

Keynote at SXSW 08WWO’s own Jane McGonigal delivered the closing keynote at the South By Southwest (SXSW) conference, and her theme was “the future of happiness” featuring of course “games as the ultimate happiness engine.” World Without Oil was a case study in her talk, which may seem odd, as one doesn’t normally associate an oil crisis (real or simulated) with happiness. But as she spelled out in her talk, the latest research on happiness shows otherwise. As Jane aptly put it, “happiness is not (just) a warm puppy”; lasting happiness actually has more to do with doing something worthwhile with people you like, and that’s WWO all over. See Jane’s slideshow (and Soulja Boy dance) via her blog, Avant Game (edit) and a transcript of her talk by ARG mastermind Dan Hon of Six To Start. (photo by Ken Eklund)

Activism Award for World Without OilWWO wins the Activism Award at South By Southwest – thanks Krystyn for pointing us to this great photo at WIRED. And thanks ARGNet for spreading the news. Kudos to all the members of the WWO team – a well-deserved honor.

Folks, you should check out the other finalists in the SXSW Activism category – they are all great sites:

Amnesty International: Tear It Down

Boost

MakeMeSustainable

The Point

SXSW People’s AwardDay 3 of the SXSW Interactive Festival – finding lots of interest in the idea of using ARGs in serious ways. Tonight’s the night of the SXSW web awards, and WWO is up for an award in the “making the world a better place” (Activism) category: Cathy Fischer of ITVS, Dee Cook and I are on hand and Jane McGonigal is flying in even as I write this. (And we hope to connect with even more WWO teammates by phone.) Double awards tension for us, as ITVS’ Independent Lens is also up for an award in the Classic category. Looking forward to a fun evening and very much thinking about the thousands of individual contributions that have brought us here… Thinking that it’s like The Wizard of Oz: it’s not the people behind the curtain, but the players in front who have given the WWO story courage, brains, and most of all, heart.

It was the world's first serious alternate reality game, a cooperative pre-imagining of a global oil crisis. Over 1900 players collaborated in May 2007 to chronicle the oil crisis with their own personal blog posts, videos, images and voicemails. The game ended after simulating the first 32 weeks of the oil shock, but its effects continue, as game designers analyze its unique gameplay and we all watch the continuing drama with global oil prices and supply.