Tag Archives: games

5 Agent Based Modeling Games That Teach

Jillian CordesBy Jillian Cordes*

An Agent Based Model (ABM) is a model that simulates interactions between individuals and groups in social and environmental settings. These theoretical models are developed as a way to analyze behavior based on methodological situations. Using computation-intensive procedures, the concept of ABM was developed as early as the 1940s, but did not gain momentum until the 1990s. These models can be used to solve and better understand a variety of business, technological and social problems. For a no-nonsense explanation of how ABM works, see What is Agent Based Modeling?

Typically researchers use real data to “model” the behavior of their “agents” in order to see what kind of changes can be expected to happen when small variables are adjusted. Today, Development Roast brings you five different games that use ABM to simulate and teach real-life change: Read More »

Can games contribute to academic research on land use and forestry?

Diana WeinholdBy Diana Weinhold

Academic research on land use and deforestation generally tries to uncover the underlying reasons for people’s and companies’ actions on the environment. For example, academics may investigate the impact of road building on agricultural expansion, how property rights change land clearing, or how agricultural labor supply affects cropping patterns.

Simulation exercises like SimPachamama (whether or not in a ‘game’ form), however, essentially work like thought experiments – if the world worked like this, what would happen if we did that.  As such, a simulation cannot answer fundamental questions of causality: what caused what. But what they can do is allow us to consider some possible outcomes of complex interactions between all the factors considered important (see Ben Groom’s piece for more information). In other words, given that academic research has found these causal relationships to be important, how would we expect the economy and environment to evolve over time under different policy choices? The outcomes from such an exercise should thus not be considered a scientific forecast, and presenting the simulation as a game is thus useful for framing the results as what they are – a hypothetical outcome from a hypothetical economy, albeit one based on current academic scholarship. Read More »

News: SimPachamama Launch, New Infographic, Media Buzz

SimPachamamaCoverPageSmallSeptember 2013 is official launch month of SimPachamama, the simulation tool that models the behavior of an Amazonian community. In it, the player becomes the mayor of such a town and has to balance policy priorities in order to maximize community wellbeing, while reducing deforestation. The game, and two other didactic scientific tools developed by the team of researchers, called OSIRIS and CISS, predict that a modest deforestation tax of around US$450/ha and a matching system of  payments for deforestation reduction from rich countries to poor ones, could raise US$1 billion every two years and help reduce deforestation by 29% annually, while increasing the income of the participating poor by the same amount. Read the official Press Release HERE.

How to Live Well in Bolivia InfographicTo help make the policy recommendations easier to digest, INESAD has developed an infographic to accompany SimPachamama’s launch. You can download and share How to Live Well in Bolivia graphic HERE or click on the image to right to view.

Throughout September, the SimPachamama team that includes researchers from INESAD, Conservation International Bolivia,  the London School of Economic and Political Sciences (LSE), and others, is publishing numerous articles that explain different aspects of the game and the debates that surround deforestation, climate change, and communities. Here is a sample of what has been published so far:

Communities need more than money to stop clearing their forests, new research shows.

What is Agent Based Modeling?

SimPachamama and the Happy Planet Index

Finally, to mark the launch, INESAD and its partners have had a two-pronged strategy. A Press Conference was held in La Paz, Bolivia on August 19, which attracted 31 media representatives from 20 different organizations. The coverage that followed went far and wide including more than a dozen articles in all the main Bolivian newspapers, such as La Prensa, La Razón, and Noticias Fides. You can download the impact note HERE.

English language media was targeted on SimPachamama’s official launch date: September 01, also generating a buzz. Here are one or two article example:

Americas Quarterly: Can games influence development policy?

Mogabay News: $450/ha tax on deforestation could help curb forest loss in Bolivia, suggests new simulation Read More »

Games Economists Play

“Games lubricate the body and the mind.” Benjamin Franklin

Classroom games can be an excellent way of introducing economic concepts. Well-designed games, or classroom experiments, can help students obtain an intuitive understanding of a concept before it is introduced formally, thus increasing the understanding and comprehension of the theoretical concept.

This list, compiled by Greg Delemeester and Jurgen Brauer, contains descriptions of about 170 different classroom games, classified according to the topic they illuminate (e.g. externalities, wealth distribution, or international trade). The list also provides links to electronic versions of the papers describing each game in detail.

Read More »

The Gamification of Life

“The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.”
Charles Kettering

When I was born, there were no personal computers, no Internet, no cell-phones, no wikipedia, no google, no web-sites, no blogs and no facebook. It is difficult to understand how anybody could communicate effectively or get much done at all.

Today is my 44th birthday and the World has changed completely.  I am in awe of the technological inventions that have occurred in my lifetime, and I am amazed to see how my kids absorb all this technology into their lives as if thousands of years of evolution had prepared their brains for this. Read More »


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