A Serious Board Game to Analyze Socio-Ecological Dynamics towards Collaboration in Agriculture


Climate change exacerbates water scarcity and associated conflicts over water resources. To address said conflicts and achieve sustainable use of water resources in agriculture, further development of socio-ecological adaptations are required. In this study, we evaluate the ability of MAHIZ, a serious board game, to analyze socio-hydrological dynamics related to irrigated agriculture. Gameplay involves the players’ decision-making with associated impacts on water resources and crop productivity in diverse climate and policy scenarios. We evaluated MAHIZ as (1) an innovative science communication and sustainability education approach, and (2) a data collection method to inform socio-hydrological theory and models. Analysis of 35 recorded game sessions demonstrated that MAHIZ is an effective education tool about the tragedy of commons in agrohydrology and was able to identify important decision-making processes and associations between critical social parameters (e.g., communication, trust, competence) and the evolution of collective action. MAHIZ has an open game design, so the approach can be adapted for both scientific insight and outreach.

Sam Zipper
HEAL@KGS PI; Assistant Scientist

I specialize in ecohydrology and hydrogeology of agricultural and urban landscapes.