Saturday, October 3, 2015

What type of game do you want to play?

Anyone who’s been to the zoo, happen to spend time with children or seen a David Attenborough documentary will tell you how young primates are forever playing. But are they playing actual games with rules? or are they just following their imagination and free will?

As children blend these structured and free form activities, we learn different things in different ways. For example wresting with your sibling when you’re both in your super-hero costumes allows you to practice strategies and responses in a relatively safe way, so that you’re able to adapt in case you ever encountered a scenario like this.

Where as a game of monopoly with your parents introduces the constructions and tests associated skills such as: interpreting regulations, negotiation, planning, business acumen and the importance of chance and risk in decision making.

In my childhood monopoly was for long rainy days and wrestling was done outside. Two very different games have very different learning outcomes.

At a fundamental level The Resilience Simulator (RES-SIM) project endeavors to create a game. But what type of game would best introduce university students to the complexity of disasters and how they affect the interconnected systems most of us take for granted?

These are the questions we are grappling with as we begin to process the results from our interviews with disaster practitioners and educators. Any design process is iterative, as the stakeholders come together to create common understanding of what could, and more importantly should, a simulator look like. It’s difficult not to image a tangible preemptive outcome, but (crucial to) trust the design processes in generating innovative solutions.

As the projects underpinning methodology Concept mapping is simple but broad in visually representing the gathered data in ways that convey meaning and validate insights for multiple agents. RES-SIM applies concept mapping principles through multiple approaches including; Agglomerative clustering (Trochim), nested Heirachies (Novak) and to accommodate the dynamic nature of disaster Cyclic (Safayeni). Through interviews project contributors have added their expertise about how to conceptualise emergencies, their management by agencies and society and most importantly what simulators provide.

By outlining the concepts of a disaster into related subsystems, such as the built environment, combat agencies, local communities and exposing inter-relationships facilitated workshops will generate a conceptual model. The model will ultimately ‘run’ scenarios such as a ‘bushfire response’ or ‘cyclone rebuild’ that have been developed in the projects upcoming focus groups.

Due to the inherent learning potential (particularly systems-conceptualisation) of using concept mapping, there’s even rationale for the actual simulator to lead participants through a dynamic Concept mapping process. But the questions remain, would you want to play that game? And what would you learn from it?

If you think you would like to contribute to this ground breaking project please get in touch with the team about how you and your organisation could play a part.

By Jai Allison - RES-SIM Project Researcher

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