I'm not sure what's going on here, but Kotaku reports that McDonalds Interactive - the gaming division of Maccy D's (!) - is going solo after a blockbuster of a speech delivered at the International Serious Games Event. Kotaku also mentions that this may be part of an elaborate hoax of some sort, but I'm not seeing the connection there (to Molleindustria, seemingly unrelated).
Anyway - a buddy was at the very conference, and sent in his copious notes, which I've repro'd here. It makes for amazing reading:
"Just come from a talk at the International Serious Games Event in Birmingham, where we saw the Strategic Communications manager for McDonald's describe a training game McDonald's have been using that reveals exactly how damaging their business practices are, and how he's spreading the word about this until he gets fired. Notes from talk follow:
McDonald's underperforming massively 1997 - 2002, so they:
- revamped stores
- tried to be more visibly responsible (more CSR activity)
- moved "beyond beef" in restaurants
...and rethought training: saw America's Army, thought they could do this for their execs, training them, and also running a sim for management to be able to predict trends.
Result: "McMarketplace" - GUI + satellite map front end on top of a simulation of factors affecting burger business (think Drug Wars but larger scale).
Found it was useful for training new hires, but not so good for long-term predictions.
So they added an economic module to the sim, from a team at MIT, and also a climate modelling module. These additions made it more accurate, but also showed business stopping at around 2050, when everyone died.
Not only are climate change and earth death bad for business, but some game factors increased this damage: higher beef production, transport costs, etc, in the game increase gas emissions and other pollution, ending the game much earlier.
"Cut emissions by 70% in first 5 years and stop deforestation" = answers from scientists unwelcome: according to the simulation, current McD policies leading to "catastrophic" situation.
Pop-up warnings ("You are about to deforest an area. Continue? [y/n]") have no effect on trainees, who are single-mindedly chasing profits to win the game and ignoring the environment costs.
Solution: change the rules they're working within and simulate harder legislation:
- no emissions trading
- prices reflect the real cost of material production
- no deforestation allowed at all.
Break these rules 3 times, you're out.
Players found ways to live with constraints, lived with lower short-term profits but all found ways of using local materials and cutting down on transportation (and didn't kill the planet). Execs also came out idealists: management ignored game results but young thrusting execs took changes to heart.
Lobbying mcdonalds' board + government legislators for making these changes to legislation has had no result - need popular pressure to achieve this kind of change. Ethical consumerism not the answer - actions don't match ideals of consumer in UK (80% claim they want to shop ethically, only 5% actually shop like this).
Economics won't work, legislation needed, need pressure to change law - anything else is a "milquetoast half-measure"; calls BP's CSR half-measures "marginally more polite form of global annihilation".
So he's broken with the McD's message and is going around talking about this game his department made until he gets fired. Plus he has a fantastic graphic of Ronald in Bolshevik headscarf clutching bicep and frowning at viewer.
Closed with pic of Easter island, called for sigs on a petition later on, applause.
I'm gobsmacked. Has anyone any further news on this incredible-sounding event?
UPDATE: full text of the speech here!