Playing computer games is for everyone. Here is my take at four computer games relevant to mining.

Before we look at the games, let me state emphatically my basic beliefs re computer games and mining

  • I think it a waste of money to develop glossy brochures to hand out to schools students in order to encourage them to become miners.
  • I believe it would be better to spend money developing computer games involving mining and in supporting youths groups playing these games competitively.

Maybe here is an opportunity for some benevolent mining company to sponsor a youth group to try out new mine development strategies.Any profit can be converted to US dollars and be sent to folk who live around closed mines.And the mining company can apply the strategy in real time.

Your chance to play a mining and computer/video game: a remarkable site fromthe Musée de la Civilisation in Quebec is Rock ‘n Metal.Log on, get a score card, visit the various halls, and play the games to get the highest possible score. You have to manage and operate a computer mine, including getting the exploration,development, ore extraction and processing, and final closure and rehabilitation right to get a decent score.If you are like me, incompetent with video games, just bypass the game feature and amble in admiration around the site for an update on all aspects of mining. Here is another Canadian tax-payer supported games: Start a Mine, from Natural Resources Canada.

Second Life.has a Mining Guild with 16 members. I could find no way to join, but that, I suppose, is the essence of a guild—you have to be invited to join. I did establish that it costs $9.95 per month to play, but after that you can get rich by dabbling in real estate. No indication anybody has yet opened a mine and gotten rich. The 30-something-year olds who told me about these sites swear they (the sites) are good for the brain, forthe brawn, and, if you are smart, the pocket. Let me know how you, as a miner, succeed.

If you are really brainy and have time, play Sugarscape. And simulate a mine, a mining community, or a whole mining-based economy. At its simplest, this is a set of squares on your computer screen.In some of the squares are piles of sugar. The game starts when you populate the remaining squares with agents that can move, get tothe sugar, consume the sugar, and store up energy. Some of the agents fail to get to the sugar and die from expenditure of energy they cannot replenish.To add spice, the agents are assigned rules for cooperating or outwitting other agents. Watch what happens and see what rules lead to the development of groups of cooperating agents, hierarchies of wealth, and the emergence of strategies to maximize the wealth (control of the sugar piles) of individual agents.

In practice, I suspect that Spore is the computer game that will change the mining industry. I challenge somebody in the mining industry to support a group playing Spore to evolve creatures that can deal with acid mine drainage, undertake remote mining, succeed at marine mining, enhance heap leaching, and more than I can imagine. Here is the future using simply, old Darwinian principles. It’s time for the mining industry to get on board.