As you know, the IGERT group spent Tuesday morning playing a game, titled "Lords of the Valley". Although this may sound like some fantasy-laden video game, it is in fact related to our training as IGERT students. Lords of the Valley is also known as "Floodplain Management Game". If you know that our IGERT is titled "Resilience and Adaptive Governance in Stressed Watersheds", then you can see the connection.
This game is based on work conducted in the Tisza River Valley, in Hungary. The Tisza River Valley is an area with agricultural development in a flood-prone area. There is a local town government that sets land prices and tax rates, a water control board, which is in charge of maintaining either dikes or irrigation structures, as well as a bank and non-governmental organizations. In real life, there are likely many more stakeholders, but for the purposes of the game, this is plenty. These stakeholders are thrown into a situation where yearly rainfall is unpredictable, and they must act out a series of years, making decisions about what to grow on the land, how much land should cost, whether they should work with an NGO, or if they should take out a loan to fund any of these activities. Essentially, this game represents a complex system in which all actors are linked together in sometimes unclear ways, exactly how real life is.
|My partner and I trying to decide the best course of action.|
Another way this game may be used is to educate real stakeholders about other stakeholders' views. For example, you could take this game to the Tisza River Valley and ask stakeholders to play. The trick would be that you would switch their roles: the farmer would take on the role of banker, the local government would take on the role of non-government organization, etc. The hope is that the different stakeholders may start to develop and understanding of and empathy towards other stakeholders with which they may have been at odds. You can also develop games specific to other areas and/or problems to be used in a similar manner.
|The first "community meeting".|
|Studying the board.|
(Post written by Maggi Sliwinski)
(Photos by Victoria)