“Gamesourcing” data on human decision-making in natural resource management

Part of ConFooBio

Games have long been a way to help gain insight in how humans may make decisions, particularly in collaborative or uncertain contexts. Work in ConFooBio has highlighted the value of such approaches (here, and here, for example) as well as the fact that videogames, remain relatively underused - despite of their clearly massive potential in this area. At the same time, previous work in ConFooBio developed GMSE, a simulation framework to model the management of natural resources in complex socio-ecological settings. Currently, GMSE uses a genetic algorithm to model decision-making of human agents in such systems.

I am currently developing an online game (built using R and Shiny) which essentially presents the GMSE “virtual world” to players, allowing them to act as one of the agents in GMSE, based on their own desired outcome. Data from each play-through is stored in a custom-made SQL database backend, and may eventually be used to develop a different algorithm for GMSE itself. This ongoing project is an exciting attempt at more explicitly linking (simulation) models, games and decision-making/trade offs in natural resource management; a link which is often missing or weak.

In addition, I am also collaborating with a team led by Dr Isabel Jones to help develop a videogame in which the player is asked to make trade-offs when siting a hydro-electric dam in an ecologically and socially diverse landscape. Again, this is aimed at better understanding how real-world decision-making may operate when faced with a range of Sustainable Development Goals.

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