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Could Gamers Hold Key to Future Mobility? Ford Challenges Developers to Revamp Journey Planning and Urban Travel

  • Ford invites gaming community during Gamescom to create online games that could inspire real-life solutions to global mobility issues
  • Ford Smart Mobility Game Challenge, produced with Cologne Game Lab, challenges developers to gamify urban commutes and integrate transport modes for smoother, less-stressful journeys
  • Panel of experts will choose five finalists; winning developer team will receive €10,000 and have their work presented at Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona
  • All-new Forza Focus RS with an exterior designed by players of the Forza Motorsport racing game for the Xbox unveiled in Cologne

COLOGNE, Germany, Aug. 6, 2015 – Ford Motor Company announced today during Gamescom a competition that challenges video game developers to create solutions for global mobility issues.

The Ford Smart Mobility Game Challenge, developed with Cologne Game Lab, encourages developers to turn the challenge of integrating different transport modes within a city into fun and engaging online games. Gamescom 2015 – the largest interactive games trade fair in Europe – is taking place this week in Cologne.

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.  

Five finalists will be chosen by a panel of gaming and mobility experts, including:

  • Bjoern Bartholdy, professor for media design and co-director, Cologne Game Lab
  • Will Farrelly, User Experience Innovation, Ford Smart Mobility, Ford of Europe
  • Tracy Fullerton, director of the USC Games Program and chair of the Interactive Media & Games Division, University of Southern California
  • Dan Greenawalt, creative director at Turn 10 Studios in Redmond, Washington, U.S.
  • Prof. Paolo Tumminelli, Design Concepts, Köln International School of Design

The winner will receive €10,000 and the opportunity to show their work at the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“The Smart Mobility Game Challenge is designed to harness the creativity of the gaming community and empower gamers to take a fresh approach to tackling today’s global mobility issues,” said Ken Washington, vice president, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering. “Applying the fun, engaging and rewarding aspects of games to journey planning can allow people to improve their commutes, track their success and become aware of how their behaviour impacts the transport infrastructure as a whole.”

The Smart Mobility Game Challenge is part of Ford Smart Mobility – Ford’s effort to help change the way the world moves through innovation. The challenge follows a recent Ford-commissioned survey of 5,500 commuters in major European cities that showed a majority of people consider their journey to work more stressful than their actual jobs.* The finalists will be asked to incorporate the key insights from this survey into their game development plans. 

Ford has embraced gamification to accelerate the development of autonomous technologies and to enhance the Ford ownership experience. Ford’s SmartGauge technology rewards drivers for fuel- and energy-efficient driving, and the MyFord Mobile app enables drivers to remotely manage the charging of their electric vehicles and shows CO2 savings as exercise balls or hot-air balloons. Ford also is using gaming elements in developing MoDe:Link, the prototype journey-planning app that is part of the Handle on Mobility electric bike experiment. 

“Gaming offers a degree of user engagement and empowerment that you don’t get from other mediums,” Washington said. “By utilising these qualities the Smart Mobility Game Challenge can help develop solutions that enable travellers to take control of their journeys.”  

Games could reward commuters for walking or cycling in good weather, and connect them to services beyond public transport, such as Ford’s GoDrive car-sharing service. By encouraging commuters to take under-utilised routes, games also could help ease congestion.

Gamification has proven a powerful problem-solving tool in research fields including the search for a cure for AIDS, where a significant breakthrough was achieved through the creation of an online video game called Foldit.** Gamification also is helping researchers study cancer,1 and is incentivising energy efficiency2 and recycling initiatives.3

Ford has developed the Smart Mobility Game Challenge with leading academic institute and think tank Cologne Game Lab, part of the Faculty of Cultural Sciences at the University of Cologne. Developers can submit their entries at www.ford-smart-mobility-game-challenge.com until Oct. 1, 2015.

“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,” Bartholdy 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.”

A unique all-new Ford Focus RS featuring an exterior designed by players of the Forza Motorsport racing game also was this week unveiled at a special Microsoft event ahead of Gamescom. Ford also has joined with Microsoft to feature the all-new Ford GT in the new Forza Motorsport 6 game for the Microsoft Xbox One console. Visitors to the event will be able to view the Ford GT ultra-high-performance supercar – the game’s cover star.

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* Survey conducted for Ford Motor Company by Opinion Matters during April 2015 https://media.ford.com/content/fordmedia/feu/en/news/2015/04/27/for-europeans--the-journey-to-work-causes-more-stress-than-their.html

** Foldit players competed to predict the structure of protein molecules and in less than three weeks cracked the code of a retrovirus enzyme that had stumped scientists for more than a decade

1 http://www.campaignpage.ca/sickkidsapp/

2 http://blog.opower.com/2012/08/gamification-and-energy-consumption/

3 https://www.recyclebank.com/

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company is a global company based in Dearborn, Michigan. The company designs, manufactures, markets and services a full line of Ford cars, trucks, SUVs, electrified vehicles and Lincoln luxury vehicles, provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company and is pursuing leadership positions in electrification, autonomous vehicles and mobility solutions. Ford employs approximately 203,000 people worldwide. For more information regarding Ford, its products and Ford Motor Credit Company, please visit www.corporate.ford.com.

Ford of Europe

Ford of Europe is responsible for producing, selling and servicing Ford brand vehicles in 50 individual markets and employs approximately 53,000 employees at its wholly owned facilities and approximately 67,000 people when joint ventures and unconsolidated businesses are included. In addition to Ford Motor Credit Company, Ford Europe operations include Ford Customer Service Division and 23 manufacturing facilities (15 wholly owned or consolidated joint venture facilities and 8 unconsolidated joint venture facilities). The first Ford cars were shipped to Europe in 1903 – the same year Ford Motor Company was founded. European production started in 1911.

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