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Corvallis man's game simulation of a global oil crisis wins a Peabody

Ken Eklund, creator of the "World Without Oil" game.
Photo provided by Ken Eklund.
Ken Eklund, creator of the "World Without Oil" game.

An alternate-reality game launched in 2007 by a Corvallis designer has just won a coveted Peabody Award. And the game’s theme is uncannily relevant today.

Ken Eklund named his interactive game project “World Without Oil.” In its month-long run, it simulated a worldwide oil shortage, with players sharing accounts of how it affected them through multimedia submissions.

Ken Eklund Accepts Peabody Award for World Without Oil

Eklund told KLCC that in that regard, the Peabody is really for everyone who participated.

“The project really came about because over 1500 people sent in their stories and really played the game,” he said, noting that he originally sent the paperwork for the award in 2008, and was truly surprised – and amazed – to have won after all these years.

Peabody Award
Image provided by Christine Drayer, UGA.edu
Peabody Award

“The official language is that “World Without Oil” received a Peabody for its groundbreaking fusion of alternate reality games with serious games – games which are actually about something relevant – and its fostering of creativity and community for the public good.”

“World Without Oil” is no longer active, but can be found in an online archive.

The Peabody Award was introduced in 1938 by the National Association of Broadcasters, and is compared to a Pulitzer in terms of prestige.

Other winners announced this yearincluded NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross, former CBS Anchor Dan Rather, the FX series, “Reservation Dogs”, and The New York Times’ coverage of the insurrectionist riot, “Day of Rage: How Trump Supporters Took the U.S. Capitol.”

Eklund (a.k.a. writerguy) continues to work on interactive and alternate reality type games.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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