Currently, IGRAC is developing a serious groundwater game, called 'The Tragedy of the Groundwater Commons Game'. This game that is part of the GroFutures project aims to improve the participants' insight in the social dilemma of the tragedy of the commons through different groundwater management scenarios. In order to test the game and to see what could be improved, IGRAC recently organized a try-out workshop with some students of UNESCO-IHE.
Serious game workshop
During this try-out, all students pretended to be part of a small rural community of farmers who irrigate their land with groundwater, trying to maximize their utility by producing as much as possible. However, since every player was pursuing the same goal and environmental impacts were included in the game as well, the students were quickly urged to cooperate and find solutions for sustainable growth. The game consisted of eleven rounds divided over three different development stages. During the first phase, the players weren't able to communicate about how much land to irrigate, which quickly led to over-abstraction. In the second phase, the students were allowed to discuss on purchasing water saving equipment and if a majority agreed upon a 'cap-rule' that regulated the maximum water abstraction, each player that abstracted more would be fined. Finally, in the last and most developed phase, potential environmental costs were divided by the amount of water every player abstracted.
By playing this game, the students experienced the dilemma farmers have to deal with. Obviously, an important prerequisite for resource management is to understand the groundwater system. The players could change the rules of the game in some extent. The game tested player's ability to understand the system and to cooperate and find mutually beneficial solutions.
Final version GroFutures Groundwater Game
The try-out session with the UNESCO-IHE students showed to be very useful, because they all had good suggested for how to further improve the game. IGRAC intern Marco Garcia is currently working on a final version which will be ready by the end of this month. For more information about GroFutures, click here.