IBM’s CityOne Sim Game: Interactive Storytelling to Engage & Educate


Growing up I loved playing war games.  Back then we didn’t have technology to aid our imagination but the experience was there nonetheless. The storyline was whatever we wanted it to be; amazing memories!

Why did I reminisce?  Gaming and storytelling are ingrained in all of us from childhood; we respond well to them.

Computer games promise the potential to move beyond this strictly linear form by offering stories that interact with the player, allowing them to participate in the decisions or actions that shape the narrative. (Source)

There’s no reason why brands can’t use interactive gaming to entertain, educate, inform and even inspire action.

IBM is one brand that understands this well and have put it into action through their business simulation game,  “CityOne” – The ” Smarter Planet Game”.

The game is IBM’s effort to provide a virtual environment that will help tomorrow’s leaders learn how to apply advances in technology and better understand how these systems work.

IBM’s CityOne Interactive Sim Game

IBM’s CityOne game was unveiled on May 4, 2010 during the IMPACT 2010 conference in Las Vegas.

In a nutshell: CitiOne lets you play the role of a City decision maker being advised by consultants on various issues a real city faces including water, electricity and sewage.  Your decision will determine the outcome of the story.  Brilliant!

It asks the question:

Think you know what it takes to make the energy systems that serve a city more efficient? Given the opportunity, could you make the city’s water cleaner and more plentiful, its banksmore robust and customer-centric and its retail stores more innovative?

and challenges you to take on this mission:

Solve real-world business, environmental and logistical problems. Learn how technology can revolutionize these industries. Explore ways to accelerate process change, integrate with trading partners, and control costs with a flexible IT infrastructure.

About the game

The game encourage players to solve problems in four key areas – banking, retail, energy and water. Each scenario offers opportunities to understand real-world implications of business decision-making in a “Sim City”-style simulation.

Rather than tell you how to play it, watch this user-generated video explaining it…

Interactive storytelling to help educate, inform and sell

IBM used this form of marketing to help explain how industry solutions can help revolutionize and address serious problems within industries and municipalities.

Although this may seem like more of an IBM sales tool, it’s actually an effective and entertaining use of content marketing to help educate and inform existing and potential IBM customers.

Real life stories

IBM used their interactive game to help educate and inform their customers (existing or propsect) about using IBM technology to better manage their cities.

The brilliance of the strategy is that they also tell real life stories of customers using their technology.

They tell the story of how the City of Madrid reduced response time by 25 percent with SOA, BPM, and real-time events reporting for agile emergency management.

They also tell the story of how Max New York Life Insurance Co. Ltd. virtualized its infrastructure to manage its applications without compromising system availability. The company reduced complexity and the cost of its hardware by 50 percent.

A conversation starter? Unfortunately Not.

Even though “CityOne” has racked up ~ 20,000 players from more than 120 countries, they’ve failed to own the conversation about sustainable cities.

To give them credit, IBM have tired to encourage gamers to carry on the conversation of on Facebook and Twitter, however the results have been pretty dismal.

The issue lies in their failure to define their topic of discussion.

They’ve also made the amateurish mistake of using Facebook as a one way broadcast channel rather than the conversation platform that it is.

Their social media strategy let them down.  Shame.

Now Over to you…

Do you think games should be used in the business field?  Have you used interactive gaming to deliver your company’s message?  Share your thoughts below…


Add a Comment