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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Using Gaming Simulation to Explore Long Range Fuel and Vehicle Transitions


The serious games methodology has proven itself over time as a potent tool for generating useful insights into complex problems in many fields. This methodology is used with Autopia, a simulation game designed to generate insights about the market dynamics of long-range fuel and vehicle transitions. Autopia simulates a three-way market of consumers, vehicle producers, and fuel producers. Analysis of the game play has revealed several emergent patterns: High fuel prices lead to a split vehicle market with small, cheap, gasoline-powered vehicles dominating the low end and well-equipped electric vehicles dominating the top 30% income bracket; it is difficult to sell alternative fuel vehicles that are comparable to similar conventional vehicles due to the price difference; and while overall demand for gasoline will fall with improving average fuel economy, predicting the decline will prompt fuel producers to slow production. The games demonstrate the data the system can generate and provide a way of analyzing general trends. The trends illuminate many of the challenges consumers are expected to face as the transportation system adapts to an unknown future.

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