Paper/Poster/Presentation Title

Serious Games and Models for Sustainable Futures

Keywords

system dynamics, board games, Unity, behavior, scenarios of futures

Start Date

27-6-2018 3:40 PM

End Date

27-6-2018 5:00 PM

Abstract

There are various visions of our future, but most likely life will be substantially different in the post-fossil fuel era. However, we are still unclear what these futures may look like and how we can transition to them. Serious games connect a serious purpose to knowledge and technologies from the video game industry. They offer a great opportunity for participatory modelling and can be also used for crowd-sourcing the collection of information about citizen mental models and stakeholder behavior.

“Last Island” was designed as a prototype sustainable futures game to explore how system dynamics models can be embedded in a gaming environment. The game is based on a version of the Miniworld model, which describes the dynamics of human population, economic development and state of environment, and generates outputs somewhat similar to the Limits to Growth scenarios. The simulation model was embedded into the Unity gaming environment, and was combined with a board game, in which players are to draw cards that change certain model parameters and therefore generate different future outcomes. It was quite challenging to maintain the logic and realism of the simulation, while making the game sufficiently exciting and entertaining to keep the attention of the players. While the developed prototype certainly needs further refinement, it already proved to be useful for several learning outcomes, demonstrating that:

  • Sustainable scenarios are hardly possible unless some cooperative strategies emerge;
  • There is a conflict between group success and maximizing scores of individual players;
  • The system often behaves in counterintuitive ways due to non-linearities and delays in the model;
  • The system sensitivity to various actions chosen is quite uneven, requiring some adaptation of strategies and ‘on the fly’ experimentation during the game.

Stream and Session

C3

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Jun 27th, 3:40 PM Jun 27th, 5:00 PM

Serious Games and Models for Sustainable Futures

There are various visions of our future, but most likely life will be substantially different in the post-fossil fuel era. However, we are still unclear what these futures may look like and how we can transition to them. Serious games connect a serious purpose to knowledge and technologies from the video game industry. They offer a great opportunity for participatory modelling and can be also used for crowd-sourcing the collection of information about citizen mental models and stakeholder behavior.

“Last Island” was designed as a prototype sustainable futures game to explore how system dynamics models can be embedded in a gaming environment. The game is based on a version of the Miniworld model, which describes the dynamics of human population, economic development and state of environment, and generates outputs somewhat similar to the Limits to Growth scenarios. The simulation model was embedded into the Unity gaming environment, and was combined with a board game, in which players are to draw cards that change certain model parameters and therefore generate different future outcomes. It was quite challenging to maintain the logic and realism of the simulation, while making the game sufficiently exciting and entertaining to keep the attention of the players. While the developed prototype certainly needs further refinement, it already proved to be useful for several learning outcomes, demonstrating that:

  • Sustainable scenarios are hardly possible unless some cooperative strategies emerge;
  • There is a conflict between group success and maximizing scores of individual players;
  • The system often behaves in counterintuitive ways due to non-linearities and delays in the model;
  • The system sensitivity to various actions chosen is quite uneven, requiring some adaptation of strategies and ‘on the fly’ experimentation during the game.