Part Myst, part Inconvenient Truth, part game, part serious, the World Without Oil website has launched. The site attempts to demonstrate what will happen to our world now that a new oil shock has taken place. In case you missed it, peak oil took place on April 30, and things are changing rapidly (check the oil price, above): bananas are no longer available, McMansions are emptying out, etc.

All those events are part of the game's alternate reality. The "news" is provided both by the website operators and through individuals writing blogs, posting videos to YouTube and other Web 2.0 content. It's a way for the Internet to get a dose of oil-free reality. Or one version of it, anyway. I haven't been playing along, but it seems like it could be a good teaching tool. Have you been participating? If so, what do you think of the system? Is it realistic? Scare-mongering? Educational? Let us know.

There's a non-alternate reality press release on the site after the break.

[Source: World Without Oil]
World Without Oil, First Alternate Reality Game to Confront a Major Social Issue: A Worldwide Oil Shock

All Web Users Invited to Witness the Oil Shock, Document Their Experiences, Apply Collective Imagination to Solve a Real World Problem

The serious game for the public good begins April 30, at www.worldwithoutoil.org

"Play it - before you live it"

SAN FRANCISCO, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Everyone knows that "someday" the world may face an oil shortage. What if that day was sooner than you thought? What if it started today? How would your life change? PBS' Independent Lens and its Electric Shadows Web-original programming today launched WORLD WITHOUT OIL, a live interactive month-long alternate reality event to explore this very real possibility.

Produced by the design team at Writerguy, WORLD WITHOUT OIL is the first alternate reality game to enlist the Internet's vast collective intelligence and imagination to confront and attempt to solve a real-world problem: what happens when a great economy built entirely on cheap oil begins to run short? This grassroots experience looks at the impact on people's lives-work, social, family and personal-and explores what happens when our thirst for oil begins to exceed supply.

"Alternate reality gaming is emerging as the way for the world to imagine and engineer a best-case-scenario future," says WORLD WITHOUT OIL's participation architect, noted futurist Jane McGonigal. "It's been summed up this way: 'If you want to change the future, play with it first."

Beginning April 30, the nerve center for the realistic oil crisis is at worldwithoutoil.org, with links to citizen stories in blogs, videos, photos, audio and phone messages posted all over the Internet. At the grassroots website, people will learn the broad brushstrokes of the crisis, such as the current price of a gallon of gas or how widespread shortages are. Players will fill in the details, by creating Web documents that express their own perspectives from within the crisis. People of any age or Web ability can participate in the free event. Individuals are getting involved across the nation, and over 400 people have signed up to play.

"The 'alternate reality' of WORLD WITHOUT OIL is not fantasy, it's a very real possibility," says Writerguy.

Creative Director Ken Eklund. "And the game challenge is one of imagination. No one person or small group can hope to figure out the complex rippling effects of an oil shock, but the collective imagination can. And understanding it is a serious, positive step toward preventing it."

WORLD WITHOUT OIL will challenge players and player communities to engage the creative and collaborative skills that will be tested in an oil shock, and to document their ideas on the web. The game will honor outstanding player contributions with WWO None-Ton Awards: offsets of one metric ton (2,204.6 lbs) of carbon dioxide, accomplished through increased energy efficiency implemented by CarbonFund.Org. The game will bestow a total of 100 such awards, making WORLD WITHOUT OIL a "carbon-neutral" effort. To assist middle and high school teachers who want to incorporate the game into class activities, the designers have established a web page: http://www.worldwithoutoil.org/teach.

WORLD WITHOUT OIL is produced by the Writerguy team, and is a joint project of PBS' Independent Lens and its Electric Shadows Web-original programming.

Presented by Independent Lens and ITVS Interactive and funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Electric Shadows sites explore the arts, culture and society through innovative forms and meet the ITVS mission of taking creative risks and advancing civic participation.

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