May 26, 2019 | Updated: 10:32 PM EDT

Farmers Winning Against Climate Change Through Computer Games: Fact or Fiction?

Apr 19, 2019 09:46 AM EDT

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Climate change affects everyone especially farmers. In order to face the challenges related to climate change, farmers can use scientific research to improve their farmlands through web-based gaming.

Adaptation strategies are methods that deal with climate change that include improved crop varieties to reduce the adverse effects of climate change.  " 'Maladaptation' is the implementation of poor decisions or methods that were initially considered beneficial, but which could actually increase people's vulnerability in the future," according to Eureka Alert.

An interactive web-based Maladaptation Game was developed by scientists from Sweden and Finland. This can be utilized on the decision-making process of Nordic farmers when it comes to environmental changes and how they deal with the negative effects of wrong decisions. 

Author Therese Asplund and colleagues from Sweden's Linkoping University and Finland's University of Helsinki published their research in the article "Benefits and Challenges of Serious Gaming - The Case of the 'Maladaptation Game' " in the journal Open Agriculture. A player is presented with precipitation, temperature increase/drought, longer growing seasons, and increased risk of pests and weeds --- all agricultural challenges. The Maladaptation Game is tested on Swedish and Finnish agricultural stakeholders. Each challenge requires the player to make a strategic decision based on the choices given. At the conclusion of the game, a summary of the possible negative outcomes based on their decisions is given to each player. 

"While we observed that the conceptual thinking of the game sometimes clashes with the players' everyday experiences and practice, we believe gaming may function as an eye-opener to new ways of thinking," explains Asplund.

Other researches on serious gaming and climate communication, the researchers recommend that there will be a creation of serious games that involve elements of thinking and sharing that will serve as impetus for reflection and discussion among stakeholders. 

"Serious games have great potential of how to address complex environmental issues. Used as a communication strategy, they illustrate, visualise and communicate research findings," says Asplund.

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