The Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future played host on March 26 to a dozen experts in the fields of humanitarian relief, development, and game design who make up the Pardee Center Task Force on Games for a New Climate. The Task Force is chaired by Pardee Visiting Research Fellow Pablo Suarez, and it is co-sponsored by the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, where Suarez serves as Associate Director of Programs.
Suarez has developed and used interactive games in his work with farmers in rural areas of Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere to teach about the uncertainty and risks associated with extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts. He also has taught and collaborated on courses featuring games and game development at a number of colleges universities around the world.
In addition to Suarez, the Task Force includes representatives from the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Oxfam America, the Overseas Development Institute, Global Change System for Analysis, Research and Training (START.org), and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre. Other members are from Parsons The New School for Design, the University of Lugano (Switzerland), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a game development company called Playmatics. (See below for the full list of Task Force members.)
The Task Force will produce a report to be published by the Pardee Center later this year that explores the potential for games to be used in various settings and with groups ranging from students in formal education programs to policy makers and humanitarian aid works, to farmers and other community members in developing countries. The report will also discuss the practical aspects of incorporating games into widely accepted teaching practices, including the potential obstacles and as well as their relative effectiveness compared to other teaching tools.
The Task Force meeting at Pardee House included discussion about how games are defined, how they can be used as a tool to teach about complex issues involving uncertainty and the consequences of decisions, and the value of games in bridging cultural divides among people and among organizations. The meeting participants also tested a few games that were to be played at a Pardee-sponsored workshop on games on March 27.
The report of the Task Force is expected to be published by the Pardee Center in the fall.
Members of the Pardee Center Task Force on Games for a New Climate
Carina Bachofen, Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre
Nick Fortugno, Parsons The New School for Design
Jarrod Goentzel, MIT Humanitarian Response Lab
Paulo Goncalves, University of Lugano
Colleen Macklin, Parsons The New School for Design
Janot Mendler de Suarez, Oxfam America (Consultant)
Kimberly Pfeifer, Oxfam America
Sarah Schweizer, START.org
Pablo Suarez, Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, Boston University
Maarten van Aalst, Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre
Hassan Virji, START.org
Biographies of the Task Force members are here.
For information on the Games for a New Climate Gaming session click here.