Siemens Industry online game seeks to make manufacturing cool again

Plantville uses game and social media technology to attract young people in the ‘talent war’ for the next generation of engineers. Game creator Pipeworks used a proprietary game engine.

[Editor’s note: Several images from Plantville follow the article.]

A look inside Quencho, one of three plants available in Plantville. (Images courtesy Siemens Industry)

Siemens Industry (a division separate from Siemens PLM Software) today launched Plantville, a new online gaming platform that simulates the experience of being a plant manager. Players are faced with the challenge of maintaining the operation of their plant while trying to improve the productivity, efficiency, sustainability and overall health of their facility.

Plantville is not designed to train existing users of Siemens products, but instead is a marketing tool to engage customers, employees, prospects, students and the general public about Siemens technologies. The game enables players to improve the health of their plants by learning about and applying industrial and infrastructure products and solutions from Siemens. Gamers will be measured on a number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including safety, on time delivery, quality, energy management, and employee satisfaction.

Plantville was created on commission by Pipeworks, the Eugene, Oregon-based division of Foundation 9, a 600-person game and animation studio with several offices across the globe. The studio primarily used 3ds Max to create characters and objects, then ported content into a proprietary game engine to create the final product.

Siemens Industry “hopes to inspire the next generation of plant engineers,” says Oliver Fleischhut, director of online communications for SI. “There’s a war on talent. We want to demystify manufacturing and make it cool again.” Within the first three hours of going online March 25, there were more than 1,200 registered users.

Plantville includes many elements of the current popular social media games, including leader boards, rewards, teamwork and competition with groups. The character Pete Taylor, who is in charge of the plant, has his own page group page on LinkedIn.

Pete Taylor, Plantville's online host and mentor.

Throughout the game, players will be able to interact with Pete, whose plant has just won the “Plant of the Year” award. Pete shares his best practices throughout the game to help players achieve outstanding results in plant performance. Webisodes, the Plantville Cafe, Puzzlers, and Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts are all available to gamers, providing hints and sharing news.

In Plantville, players can select which of the three virtual plants they would like to manage first, a bottling plant, a vitamin plant, or a plant that builds trains. At the start of the game, each type of plant is faced with different challenges. The players must identify the challenges facing their plant and implement solutions to improve the plant’s KPIs. Gamers will compete with one another on a number of levels, including plant-to-plant and on specific KPIs. Pete’s leader board will keep track of which players are performing the best on each of the levels.

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