'Have fun with energy': Edmontonian creates energy diversification game

As Alberta’s oil and gas industry continues to stumble, an Edmonton man is hoping to educate people about the energy sector with a new board game.

Geopowr focuses on building a secure power supply

Geopowr is a new board game about energy security and diversification. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

As Alberta's oil and gas industry continues to stumble, an Edmonton man has created a board game to help people learn about the energy sector.

Designer Michael Overduin officially launched the Geopowr game this weekend, giving people the opportunity to learn about oil and gas, geothermal energy and wind, solar and hydropower.

The game focuses on building a secure power supply, with players investing in different types of energy across the globe.

"The idea is to have fun with energy," said Overduin, who created the game with the help of his family and friends.

"It's a very difficult problem [that] kind of feels very far away. But with this game, in 30 minutes, you can play around with it and come up with a solution very quickly and easily with a bunch of friends."

Geopowr creator Michael Overduin plays the game on Saturday. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

The main goal is for players to have fun, but Overduin noted the game also has an educational component.

"This is a way to get people involved and thinking about what that challenge [of energy diversification] means to people individually, and working hopefully together constructively with different parties and different people, thinking about how we can really balance the different energy sources we have," he said.

"Weaving these together is really the solution. And Alberta is a great place for that. We have great resources — not just oil, but also lots of sunshine, for example."

Geopowr focuses on several types of energy sources. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

The game is available online, and has been shared with local board game cafes, like Pawn and Pint on 172nd Street and 69th Avenue.

Cafe owner Robert Trueblood described Geopowr as an elegant, intuitive game.

Board games are a great avenue to look at solving problems in a cooperative manner.- Robert Trueblood, Pawn and Pint owner

"Any sort of problem or situation that you want to address, you can look at in board game form. There are board games about war, of course, but there's also a board game that came out in the last couple months about building a very nice coral reef," he said.

"There is another board game actually about building a power grid. So really, board games are a great avenue to look at solving problems in a cooperative manner."

They're also a great tool for tricking people into learning, he said.

"People learn better when they're having fun. People learn better when they're engaged in that way," Trueblood said.

Overduin said he's open to feedback from people who give the game a go in Edmonton. If it's successful, he hopes to raise money to expand the game beyond Alberta.

Pawn and Pint owner Robert Trueblood has played plenty of board games in his life. He says Geopowr is an elegant and intuitive game. (Nathan Gross/CBC)