How a serious game can help us predict the future of our environment
The Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research e.V. (ZALF) is an interdisciplinary research facility which unites institutes and work groups from different scientific areas such as agricultural sciences, geo- and life sciences and socioeconomics. Their research focuses on environmental resources in the context of the sustainable development of rural areas. The project was implemented within the framework of a BMBF joint project called ‘INKA BB Innovation Network Adaption to Climate Brandenburg – Berlin’ in cooperation with other project partners.
ZALF needs to communicate knowledge of water conservation and management to the wider public.
Additionally, it must create awareness among participants of the implications of voluntary changes in land use, control measures and climate-related changes - all of which ultimately impact the hydrologic balance of a landscape - and inform them about the respective consequences for water use.
IMC develops a serious game that does the following:
- Shows a typical Brandenburg landscape
- Simulates climate scenarios over a 50 year future timeframe
- Enables the gamer to make various decisions concerning water management
For the first time, a serious game is available to show a realistic representation of modern water management. Gamers are able to test the possibilities and limits of the adaption to climate change in an engaging format. The learning that happens as a result will provide big advantages when it comes to real life decision-making.
With approximately 380 employees, of whom 191 are scientists, ZALF is one of the most important research facilities in central Europe. The interdisciplinary facility is located in the Brandenburg town of Müncheberg and unites six institutes with different research priorities. It brings together scientific approaches from agricultural sciences, geo- and life science, and socioeconomics. The focus of research at ZALF is on ecosystems in agricultural areas. In this context, the main concern is how land use systems should be conceived and implemented in order to remain ecologically and economically acceptable in the long term. ZALF employees closely follow contemporary trends and discourse in the hope of presenting future-oriented agricultural land solutions which will satisfy the requirements of both nature and its inhabitants. For its practical field research, ZALF uses experimental sites in Dedelow in the Uckermarck as well as in Paulinenaue, west of Berlin in the Havelland.
Inform, Discuss, Create
One of ZALF’s main priorities is to inform citizens about possible alternatives and consequences concerning land and agricultural site use, spur discussion of these issues.
This was also the motivation behind starting a controversial dialogue at Green Week (Grüne Woche) in Berlin in 2014: a landscape model at the event helped visitors to imagine possible future scenarios depending on the type of use, in terms of the appearance, the biodiversity and productivity of the landscape.
By offering special events and guided tours, ZALF also gives schools an opportunity to discover agricultural landscape research in a playful and creative way.
The project staff of IMC has become familiar with a subject that was largely unknown to them very quickly. Our cooperation with them was extremely constructive.
Prof. Dr-Ing. habil. Stefan Kaden Coordination and scientific leadership of the project
Create innovative solutions for tomorrow's needs today
Although the area around Berlin and Brandenburg is rich in water reserves, it has little rainfall. In this area, some consequences of climate change on water management can already be seen today. The scientific community predicts the shift of rainfall into the winter period, presenting new challenges for water management and aggravating conflicts of interest over water utilisation. A project team under the leadership of the Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research has set itself the task of increasing public awareness of water management issues and presenting the results gathered over the course of the project. The project was carried out within the framework of the BMBF joint project INKA BB, which develops future-focused strategies of reacting to climate change. In this context, the main challenge was to present possible climate scenarios as realistically and vividly as possible so as to capture the interest of people of all ages.
These geography lessons are anything but boring!
Under the leadership of Prof. Dr-Ing. habil. Stefan Kaden, the partners decided to develop a game that shows the consequences of different forms of land use.
The serious game, completed in cooperation with IMC and called “Water Management in Times of Climate Change,” shows a typical Brandenburg landscape with watercourses, lakes, forests, agriculture, nature conservation and residential areas, and then simulates long-term climate scenarios (dry, medium, wet) over 50 years which can be followed in monthly stages.
The gamer has to play the role of a regional adviser for water management in Brandenburg. He or she has to decide how the land is used, and how water supplies and rain water management are organised. The gamer must also assume responsibility for the results of his or her decisions later on.
It goes without saying that the gamer is exposed to various conflicts of interest during the project. In the course of the game, it quickly becomes clear that the mission is neither easy nor without conflict, and that it is an almost impossible task to satisfy every stake-holder. Nature conservation associations often pursue diametrically opposite objectives to those of companies, while the objectives of farmers differ from those of tourism.
In the course of the game, the gamer is asked to prioritise his or her personal objectives and to decide whether ecological, economic or social aspects determined the decision. Afterwards, the decisions made by the gamer are evaluated in terms of the previously defined goals.
IMC Learning Suite
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