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

Your chance to play a mining and computer/video game: a remarkable site from the 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 game: 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 are good for the brain, for the brawn, and, if you are smart, the pocket. Let me know how you, as a miner, succeed.

Runescape is a Massively Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) according to its own blurb. Here is the latest advice on making money by mining in the runescape landscape:

Get your character’s mining level up to level 38 by mining iron, etc. Then, go to the Barbarian Village and mine coal from the rocks, which you can sell for 100 to 300 runescape gold per piece. You will also occasionally find a gem (from least valuable to most, sapphire, emerald, ruby, diamond) which can be sold for good prices. Once you are at level 40 mining, add a person named yodoo86 to your list. He always buys coal. Mine coal and sell to him for 100 runescape money. Get your smithing and mining levels up to 40 and mine gold in the Lessers Pits on Karajama Island. However, be careful of the level 21 skeletons. There are five rocks, so on a good night when no one is on, you can hit them in a row making your trip very easy. You can usually get 25 gold ore that becomes 25 runescape gold bars. Put them into certs and sell for 1k a gold cert.

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 to the 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.

Here is one from Germany. It is called: CLONK. I quote from the description on its website:

Clonk is an entertaining, action-packed game of strategy, tactics, and skill. It can be played by a single player, with up to four players on one computer, or any number of players in local networks or via internet.

The game is played in realtime rounds in which each player controls his hardy crew of clonks in order to either mine resources and build up a base or eliminate the opponent’s crew.

Run-time generated or predefined landscapes feature everything from hills, mountains, lakes, deserts, arctic wastelands to volcanic rocks, islands floating in mid-air or suboceanic terrain. This guarantees a never-ending variety of scenarios.

Experience changing weather conditions with rain, snow, thunderstorms, as well as tectonics and hectic animal activity. A unique physics engine allows rain, flowing water, crumbling earth, snow drifts, lakes of lava…

Build new structures using materials you have created in complex production chains. Extend your base and prepare for battle by developing new weapons and tactics.

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.

Here is an e-mail I once received—it is the best advert for playing computer games I know of:

“I couldn’t help but smile at your post about mining videogames. As I grew up I spent a lot of time playing very number/rule heavy videogames like civilization, railroad tycoon, simcity, etc. Now as I grow up I find myself attracted to reactor design and flowsheet design for some of the same reasons - a problem to play with that needs optimizing. When the numbers go up, you know you’re having more fun.”