Educational Games

Game development

The POLISES project took off with a plan to develop, with partners, a prototype of an educational web-based game on food security targeted at secondary school students. The game was going to have the following objectives:

  1. Improve the students’ understanding of the complex and – at first glance – non-obvious interrelations that shape food security in a teleconnected world;
  2. Make the students aware that they themselves are responsible consumers who have the power to influence land use patterns and food security of smallholders in a developing country through their behaviour.

Several consecutive POLISES interns elaborated a game concept, as reported in our blog. In 2018, we established a cooperation with two exciting study programs: Game Design (Prof. Baur) at Vitruvius Hochschule in Leipzig, and Information Design and Media Management (Prof. Zeugner) at the Merseburg University of Applied Sciences.

Student teams at both colleges have taken our ideas several steps further and are currently developing, in the context of a semester project, three different, fully playable educational games on food security. They implement cutting-edge technical and design principles.

We will possibly continue working on these games in a follow-up project, with the eventual aim to make them widely available and promote their use among teachers and students.

Ongoing activities

In an earlier research project, we have developed a board game on sustainable land use in drylands affected by change:

NomadSed - Playfully Explore Sustainability

In the NomadSed board game, up to five players assume the role of nomadic herders and try to increase their livestock capital. They have to make decisions that do not only depend on the state of the pastures, but also on daily challenges related to life in the steppe. At times, it makes sense to invest money and buy extra fodder; at others, sheep have to be sold at the market; and sometimes, cooperating with your neighbours is the best choice.

Which target group does the game address?

  • pupils and students (age 10 and above) in the context of environmental education
  • scholars in interdisciplinary projects on land use
  • decision makers and land users in the context of environmental management and development projects

The NomadSed game communicates insights into dynamic relations between the environment and human exploitation. Thus, it facilitates dialogue on management decisions based on actual experiences of nomadic herders.

Currently, we are working on an adapted version that includes weather-index insurance and can potentially be used to illustrate the concept of insurance to pastoralists in the field.