Get them while they are young. Make green habits part of computer games.

Because games are a big part of the Christmas season tradition and Black Friday is just two days away now, it makes sense that green advocates would seek to sneak in subtle Pavlovian-like behavior algorithms into an emerging crop of online applications and cyber-games that encourage green behavior. I wrote about this trend last month over in my SmartPlanet blog, and since then, I've only become more convinced that rewards for green behavior will increasingly become part of the cyber-game credos.

Because games are a big part of the Christmas season tradition and Black Friday is just two days away now, it makes sense that green advocates would seek to sneak in subtle Pavlovian-like behavior algorithms into an emerging crop of online applications and cyber-games that encourage green behavior. I wrote about this trend last month over in my SmartPlanet blog, and since then, I've only become more convinced that rewards for green behavior will increasingly become part of the cyber-game credos.

The latest example is a new collaboration between DoSomething.org and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a Facebook game called eMission. Get the pun?

The game, which is definitely targeted at teens, works by only allowing players to get to the next level if they take some sort of environment-saving action -- such as running a school recycling drive or using energy-efficient technology that is blessed by the EPA's Energy Star program. The players are thrust into a setting where they are encouraged to establish and cultivate a coastal habitat, repleted with animals such as sea lions and bald eagles. They advance by completing missions in the real world that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Says DoSomething.org COO Aria Finger:

"Teens are using Facebook every single day -- posting pictures, chatting with friends, writing on each other's walls -- but most significantly, they are spending half of their time on Facebook playing games. We are thrilled that we can partner with top environmental and social games experts to use this platform to mobilize teens offline around energy efficiency."

Let's be clear, the actions that you take to progress are taken OFFLINE. So, refreshingly, the game requires teenagers to get involved with the real-world while recognizing that they like hanging out in cyberspace. The idea is that teenagers will get more out of eMission than something like Farmville. No offense Farmville, types, but maybe you should add an organic farming or sustainable agriculture element to your game and then we can talk.

Oh, yes, there's another twist that parents might appreciate: participants can enter for the opportunity to win one of five $2,000 scholarships.

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