Experiential learning based on the NewDistrict asymmetric simulation game : results of a dozen gameplay sessions

Abstract : NewDistrict is a simulation game designed to improve awareness and foster learning on the impacts of peri-urbanization development on biodiversity. It simulates two layers of complexity: environmental processes (bee colonization, bird migration and water quality) which are simulated by a computer model and social interactions which are simulated through a stakeholder role-playing game involving a mayor, building contractor, farmer, forester and ecologist. Both layers interact and evolve throughout the simulation. As described in our contribution to ISAGA 2014 (Becu et al., 2014) the simulation game is asymmetric as, depending on the role they have in the simulation, the players will have different objectives and information as well as a different range of actions and perception of the game environment, This asymmetry is assumed to influence the participants’ learning experience. We have carried out 12 sessions with NewDistrict in France, with executives of construction companies mainly, and to a lesser extent, with students and environmental specialists. Participants were asked to fill up a questionnaire before and after the session in order to evaluate their learning experience. Results show that participants do not learn that much about ecological processes and biodiversity functioning but learn a lot about the thinking (process) associated with each game role and how to better interact with the stakeholders represented in the roles. After playing the game, participants say they would pay much greater attention to the consultation process, transparency requirements and anticipation aspects involved in multi-stakeholder coordination projects. Hence, these results show that the asymmetric game components amplify/facilitate learning on both collective action and negotiation processes.
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Nicolas Becu, Nathalie Frascaria-Lacoste, Julie Latune. Experiential learning based on the NewDistrict asymmetric simulation game : results of a dozen gameplay sessions. Hybrid Simulation & Gaming in the Networked Society, 2015. ⟨hal-01253024⟩

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