Pardee Center Sponsors Workshop on Games for a New Climate

The Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future sponsored a day-long workshop called “Games for a New Climate” on Tuesday, March 27.  Held at Barristers Hall at the Boston University Law School, the event was co-sponsored by the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre.

Students from Boston University and elsewhere joined members of the Pardee Center Task Force on Games for a New Climate to play a series of highly interactive games.  The featured games at the workshop were designed specifically to help participants understand the complex issues facing citizens and decision-makers as seasonal precipitation patterns and the frequency of extreme events such as floods and droughts are becoming less predictable because of the changing climate.

Game Session 2
Pablo Suarez lead the group through an interactive introduction and discussion of the role and use of games.

The workshop was led by Pardee Center Visiting Research Fellow Pablo Suarez, in collaboration with members of the Task Force.  The event featured a total of five games on topics ranging from whether and how farmers in developing countries can use insurance programs as a means of addressing chronic food insecurity to how contractors bidding on municipal infrastructure projects may have to consider changing long-term probability forecast for floods (e.g. an increased risk of a 10-year flood event) in developing their bids for roads and bridges. One game pitted “humans versus mosquitoes” in relation to controlling the risk of Dengue fever.

Games Session 3
Pardee Director ad interim James McCann plays and discusses the game, "Humans versus Mosquitoes: A Game on Dengue Risk Management," with students.

In addition to taking part in the games, the participants also heard from the Task Force members about the value of interactive games as a tool for teaching about complex issues involving uncertainty and risk.

“The value of games is that they can change perceptions, behavior, attitudes and culture,” said Task Force member Hassan Virji, Executive Director for Global Change System of Analysis, Research and Training (START), an international non-governmental organization working on global environmental change issues in developing countries. He said the learning that occurs in games that can address those four issues can have an important and lasting impact.

game session 5
Task force member Janot Mendler de Suarez leads a group through, "Broken Cities: A Game on Sustainable Urban Development."

Suarez noted that “games can synthesize a lot of complexity into a simple set of rules,” and convey the nuances of various options or choices in a way that traditional lectures can’t.

“In the end, we want to convey the idea that games can be used as teaching tools, like scenario planning or econometrics, but right now, they are used less,” Suarez said.

The workshop took place a day after the Task Force met at Pardee House to begin work on report that will be published by the Pardee Center in the fall.

Watch a short video from the Gaming Session below.

Games for a New Climate from Pardee Center on Vimeo.

For more on the Task Force meeting the previous day click here.