Understanding the Importance of District Heating with HeatSeeker – a Browser-Based Game for Customers

Understanding the Importance of District Heating with HeatSeeker – a Browser-Based Game for Customers

HeatSeeker gameplay

The Challenge

District heating is a vital aspect of the homes we live in. However, it is something that works so seamlessly that it’s easy to take it for granted. A group of district heating companies felt that messages they were sending to customers were infrequent and sometimes impersonal. They wanted to re-engage customers by communicating with them in a different way.

Adding the Human Touch

LudoCraft were invited to create a product through Industryhack for this group of energy companies. In short, the goal was to create a vibrant and accessible game that increases customer awareness of district heating. There also needed to be a tangible human connection within the game that could help players grasp the positive effects of district heating.

Creating a Cohesive Game for Everyone

We figured that an important part of the game would involve helping a person manage their energy consumption. Therefore, this is how a character called Alina fits into the HeatSeeker story. Through different levels in the game, players have to economically and ecologically keep Alina’s home warm. Additionally, our collaboration with the group of district heating companies keeps the game as realistic as possible.

Making Savvy Decisions on District Heating

Having a cohesive product that was understood by everyone was essential. Firstly, we sent a playable version of the game was sent to each district heating company that we were in collaboration with. Next, we subsequently rolled out a pilot of HeatSeeker to select university students. By showing the effects of district heating, customers are empowered to make greener changes to their energy usage.

Changing the Messaging Around District Heating

Among a group of Finnish district heating companies, there was a consensus that messages to customers needed to be more engaging. They often send out just essential information (e.g. bill payments), which is by its nature formal and to-the-point. This reduces district heating, as an idea, to something that we don’t pay much attention to. Yet it is an important part of day-to-day life.

Two-thirds of new homes use district heating (according to the Finnish District Heating and Cooling Association). This is provided by 70% of Finland’s municipalities and is an vital part of day-to-day life. It’s so important that customers are aware of all the god things about district heating.

This is where LudoCraft’s involvement in the project sparked into life. The group of district heating companies wanted a provide a friendly customer service experience that was also driven by data. Most importantly, it had to educate customers of the value of district heating. We were invited to take part in Industryhack and pitch an idea for a game to meet this need.

Through this planning, it enabled us to present a browser-based game that established a relatable and easy-to-understand premise. It also illustrates a tangible link between how people use district heating and what effect it has financially and ecologically. Following our pitch to Industryhack, we managed to further deepen the concept and the mechanics of the game.


Understanding Through Temperature Checks

Every game needs a character that everyday people can relate to. Therefore, having a human connection was essential to the HeatSeeker’s success. That is why we created a character called Alina. She is at the centre of every decision made by the player. In the browser-based game players take control of Alina’s apartment building with district heating. In brief, the aim is to keep her warm as her heating requirements change from day-to-day.

Players can reduce or increase the temperature of Alina’s house using a thermostat. Later in the game, more variables are added that need to be considered. In the final level, players have to take into account many things such as the weather forecast and Alina’s budget.

Balancing all these different factors is a big part of the game. Therefore, this is where HeatSeeker is subtly asking players to consider the choices they are making. Because of this, the game asks players to choose solutions that are good for the environment, as well as their wallets. For example, players can open a window to let cool air in if Alina’s home is too warm.

We also got a better understanding of energy usage across Finland in each region through working alongside the district heating companies. This ensures that the information shown in HeatSeeker as accurate as possible, which was as equally important as the gameplay. Additionally, the mechanics behind the thermostat that players use in the game have been carefully constructed. After all, temperature change in Alina’s house must be shown clearly in a way that correlates with real-life energy usage.

HeatSeeker in Three Ways

New Customer Experience

HeatSeeker provides a new customer service experience. Through an easy-to-use browser game, district heating can be explained simply and clearly. Players are put in the shoes of Alina, as she tries to effectively keep her house warm.

Collaboration on a Large Scale

There were many different energy companies in Finland collaborating with us. Of course, this means everyone needs to be on the same page. So it was important that the solution was something that everyone could understand.

Balancing the Temperature

Players can progress through HeatSeeker by keeping Alina warm whilst also keeping an eye on her budget. Furthermore, they can choose to make decisions that are good for the environment around them.

LudoCraft Way of Working

Yritys kommenti – toivosti Industryhackista, mutta jos ei, yritys johtosta.

Reaching Our Energy Goals

Testing is always a big part of the process for LudoCraft. This is especially true when collaborating with six different businesses on one product, which is pretty unusual for us. Therefore, strong co-operation from all parties was essential. Everyone was on board with the concept and eager to make HeatSeeker succeed. So the first step of testing was for all the companies to trial a demo of the product.

Additionally, a pilot was released to university students in Oulu and Turku. LudoCraft started out as university students ourselves when we began our game research work. We know that these students are people who are potentially living independently for the very first time. There are so many things to be aware of, including managing budgets and utilities such as district heating. With that in mind, we know that HeatSeeker would be a game of real importance to them!

Over 2,000 people played HeatSeeker in this period and the feedback we got was overwhelmingly positive. We received lots of comments saying how the game helped people to understand what affects district heating usage. Players also said that they gained a better understanding of how to save energy where possible.

At this moment in time, everyone is trying to be manage their carbon footprint. Everyday normal tasks we do have an impact accordingly on the world around us. Likewise, the same is true for every business. Through creating HeatSeeker, we are doing our bit to create a greener way-of-life.

Want your own game solution? Get in contact!

Anne Ryynänen
Global Sales & Brand Manager
E-mail: anne.ryynanen@ludocraft.com

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