One way to explore integration of the natural and the social sciences is the construction and use of simulation games and policy exercises (cf. Chapter 10 and 12). Since 2013 several websites have come online about games for sustainability. Some of these are (very) simple games about public goods, used in what has become known as experimental or behavioural economics. Others are more elaborate games about how to manage common pool resources such as fisheries or forests, sometimes constructed as part of field experiments. These games can serve three purposes: (environmental) education, (social) scientific research and applied (sustainability) governance / policy support. In education, it teaches students ‘from the inside’ about particular sustainability issues, structures and interventions. In some games, the main, limited purpose is to explore a particular decision structure e.g. a social dilemma such as NAMES Other games are more elaborate representations of real-world situations, with more or less detailed role descriptions and participant interactions (e.g. NAMES). In research, …
The website Games 4 Sustainability – Teaching, Learning and Practicing Sustainability Through Serious Games (http://www.games4sustainability.org/ ) is operated by the Centre for Systems Solutions (CRS), Wroclaw. All games are feely available for non-commercial purposes. It features a Gamepedia and Gameplatform with games ranging from simple role-playing ones for children e.g. about water pollution or refugee support to more advanced management games / policy exercises e.g. about a river delta. Most games are based on electronic devices: laptops or mobile devices and require the Internet access and a group of players and a moderator. From a sustainability perspective, the games about managing a renewable resource river, forest, the atmosphere…) are particularly useful.
The website Games for Sustainability – For Researchers, Practitioners & Educators (http://gamesforsustainability.org/ ) is operated by the Center for Behavior, Institutions, and the Environment, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University (ASU). The education section on this site provides rather simple resource management games (irrigation, forestry, fisheries, groundwater, public goods), with excellent support for educators in the form of descriptions, instructions and game sheets. The practitioners section offers similar games but with a more elaborate context for use in community settings. The research section offers a wealth of descriptions, outcomes, software, protocols and papers on laboratory experiments (collective action, public goods) and field experiments in relation to commons dilemma’s (irrigation, fisheries, forestry and groundwater). The latter were performed in Colombia, Thailand, Nepal, China and India.
Photo credits: ‘Thurn and Taxis’ by vizzzual-dot-com on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)