The UK government's Department for Transport spent nearly £2.8 million, or around $4.4 million, creating and launching its mostly-ignored road safety online game Code of Everand
Developed by New York City-based firm Area/Code, Code of Everand
was meant to "reduce child pedestrian casualties" by presenting young players around the age of 9 to 12 years old with lessons about road safety in an MMO fantasy game setting.
Area/Code worked on the project for more than two years, and it was almost canceled twice. When Code of Everand
launched in November 2009, none of the employees from the Department for Transport who commissioned the free game were still at the agency.
From the project's inception to the current fiscal year, the department invested £2,785,695 into the project. Despite that considerable expense, Code of Everand
has attracted only 170,000 users in its lifetime, according to figures
obtained by government-focused web consultancyA Puffbox.
The firm found that after reaching a peak of 54,500 new registrations in March 2011, the number of players trying out the MMO has nearly flatlined from June on. Absolute unique numbers also dropped dramatically around the same time following some early popularity.
Average time spent in Code of Everand
, however, has been noticeably high -- from February to October 2010, its limited pool of users played the online game for around 10 minutes with each session. Then in November, that amount jumped up dramatically to 18 minutes.
The Department of Transport disclosed to Puffbox that it contracted an evaluation team comprisingA the Transport Research Laboratory, Coventry University's Sesrious Games Institute, and independent social research Simon Christmas Ltd. in March 2010 to evaluate the game.
The government agency says it's still in the planning stage and doesn't yet have a date for publishing the team's work and final report. It expects to publish 2010's road casualties data in June 2011.