Ford taps gamers to transform the future of urban travel

Will gamers be the lynchpin that decides how we plan our journeys in the future?

Screenshot via ZDNet

Ford believes the gaming community could hold the key to developing innovative urban travel solutions for our future journeys.

On Thursday, during the Gamescom conference in Cologne, Germany, the automaker announced plans to tag-team with Cologne Game Lab in efforts to entice gaming enthusiasts to create online games which tackle real-life travel problems.

The Ford Smart Mobility Game Challenge will "encourage developers to turn the challenge of integrating different transport modes within a city into fun and engaging online games," thereby providing both entertainment and potentially resulting in solutions which can be implemented into our cities.

"Gamification has proven to be an effective way to solve real-life problems in many areas. The learnings from the Ford Smart Mobility Game Challenge could lead to innovative solutions and new approaches to integrating urban transport, with joined-up door-to-door journeys.

For instance, the games developed could reward participating commuters for successful journeys, based on criteria such as time-taken, cost, comfort and convenience. They also could utilise personal data and technology including smart phones and watches," Ford says.

Our cities are becoming more concentrated as time wears on. This, in turn, leads to more congested roads and stress on public transport infrastructure which is forced to cope with traffic levels it was not built originally to support.

To reduce these problems, as an example, Ford says commuters could receive rewards for walking or cycling in good weather, and car-sharing services could be promoted.

In addition, if commuters are made aware of and encouraged to use under-utilised routes, congestion in urban areas could be eased.

It might not overhaul our city transport in a major way, but every little helps.

According to a study commissioned by Ford, in a survey of 5,500 commuters across Europe, the majority of people said they find their journey to work more stressful than their actual jobs. Developers are therefore asked to keep this in mind when designing their game-based solutions.

A panel will choose five finalists and the winning developer team will receive €10,000 as well as the opportunity to showcase their work at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona.

"Games are designed to entertain, but for the developers it's a serious business that requires astute problem-solving abilities as well as creativity -- exactly the qualities needed to tackle the challenge of integrating existing transport systems," Bjoern Bartholdy, professor for media design and co-director at Cologne Game Lab said.

"We're excited to partner with Ford in putting the talents and know-how of the gaming community to great use with Ford Smart Mobility Game Challenge."

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