Cruising around a racetrack at 180 mph; collecting monsters to earn tickets; freeing hostages and stopping terrorist takeovers; liberating humanity from an army of merciless machines; and taking home a stuffed, crane-captured frog as a trophy are all in an afternoon’s work for gamers at the local Dave & Buster’s arcade. There are varying levels of gamer out there — casual, serious, and addict, to name a few — but it seems that gaming popularity has moved from the realm of the basement-dwelling teenager to the hands of young children, professionals, and grandparents across America. These new gamers may not all be willing to sleep outside GameStop the night before the next installment of the Call of Duty® saga is released, but they are equipped with multiple handheld devices that bring portable, constant access to cutting-edge graphics and hands-on interactivity.

What does gaming have to do with the HVACR industry? Plenty.

HVACR Simulator

Some of the video game simulators out there aren’t for the faint of heart. Take flying, for example. Flight simulators often range between wild rides with simple controls to frustrating and time-consuming programs with complicated control systems. The wild rides are great for the inexperienced and those that are younger. It gets them interested in flying and lets them have fun. The frustrating, time-consuming simulators, however, are more for those who truly want to learn to fly. The simulated but realistic training ground is a place where a lot of learning happens — and if the participants don’t perform as a newly training pilot should perform, they can’t do anything but fly in circles while the machine keeps telling them to go back to certain coordinates and perform the requested task.

How great would it be to have an HVACR simulator parked next to the flying, racing, firefighting, and truck-driving simulators in the arcade? Gamers pretend to be police officers, fighter pilots, and great warriors of the future, why not pretend to be an HVACR technician? Start simple with a fun and wild ride through town pretending to be a residential contractor racing to correctly install and repair efficient heating and cooling systems in order to stop a nuclear meltdown at the local power plant because the HVACR systems are overloading the grid. The concept takes some dramatic license, but if you have seen the story lines for some of these other games, you would know that this concept isn’t all that unbelievable. If HVACR simulators catch on, there could be more sophisticated ones that actually teach the ins and outs of basic installs and service.

Either way, the game would likely create some buzz about the industry, and instead of growing up to be a soldier or a police officer, perhaps some out there would like to grow up to be an HVACR technician.

Growing Up Gaming

Speaking of growing up, has anyone noticed what some of the favorite toys of the younger generation are? The electronic video game, iPad, and iPod touch rank among the top desired items for young children. Game designers are creating simple games that help early developing children learn shapes, colors, numbers, etc. As the child grows, these same developers are putting out games where kids can be chefs, hair stylists, and many other professions. They learn to match items or just have fun in a simulated career setting. To date there aren’t any HVAC game topics for kids, but imagine the many kinds of fun and simple games that could be designed around HVACR technician storylines.

Control Freaks

Next to the design of a game, many gamers consider the controller to be the second most important element. There are many different types of controllers, but the concept of the controller has transcended gaming. With the connectivity of the Internet and smartphones, the general public is beginning to demand control of as much as they possibly can. It has gone from controlling the television to controlling the heating and cooling system, the lights, and even the shades in some homes. The current generation may only be enamored with the idea of having a controller for their HVACR system, but the next generation will likely be demanding full, portable control of their systems. After all, almost everything in their life has been a video game, why wouldn’t they expect that to continue into their adulthood?

It’s time for the HVACR industry to take a risk and enter the gaming world. Don’t believe a trade presence in video games will work? Then consider this fact: one of the most popular video game concepts of all time is Super Mario Brothers and the game heroes — Mario and Luigi — are plumbers.

Publication date: 6/25/2012