Race for Fuel Efficiency

Team members: Paul Choi, Miguel Garrido, Lawrence Sun, Kimberly Yu

The data say that different car models have different fuel economy levels, and the driving speed also affects how fuel efficient the car is. We want to tell this story because fuel efficiency is determined by so much more than just the type of car you drive. Most people are aware that certain cars (e.g. Prius) are more fuel-efficient than other cars (e.g. Ford). However, not everyone is aware that when you drive a car at a speed faster than its optimal speed, the car’s gas mileage decreases, more greenhouse gases are produced, and you end up wasting gas and money. Our audience is car buyers and drivers, and our goals are to teach participants about fuel efficiency for different cars at various speeds, and help them make better driving choices.

Our participatory data game is a digital multiplayer game where the goal is to reach the destination in the least amount of time while spending the least amount of money. Players are given 5 gallons of gas per round, and each gallon costs $3. Each round, a player chooses 1) a car model from four options (or keeping their current car) and 2) speed (ranging from 30 mph to 90 mph). After each round, the player’s balance is updated, and the player’s car animates across the screen to reflect the distance traveled and its speed. For each subsequent round, the player can choose to keep the car or choose a different car. A timer keeps track of how long it takes the player to travel 1000 miles, and the amount of money the player has spent is displayed. At the end of the game, a weighted total score is displayed. Choosing the type of car and the speed while attempting to reach a destination within a time limit helps the player discover and learn that the type of car and the speed both affect fuel efficiency, and there is a tradeoff between time and money spent.

We based our data game off of the US Fuel Economy measurements and the MPG for Speed Calculator. Given the MPG values for vehicle models from the 2017 Fuel Economy guide, the MPG for Speed calculator helped us calculate the cost, distance driven, and driving time for each round in the game. The higher the MPG, the more fuel-efficient a car is, and the less greenhouse gas emissions the car will produce. However, if a car is driven faster than its optimal speed, the car becomes less efficient because the air resistance increases. We envision this game being incorporated into websites for car manufacturers, especially those that produce cars with high fuel efficiency, or at car dealerships. Car manufacturers can use this game to playfully inform customers about how fuel-efficient their car is compared to other cars. Car dealers can use this game to help customers make better decisions as well as make waiting time more exciting and beneficial.