Isabela Barriga serves as the social media manager, content entry and work flow coordinator for Climatelinks. She assists with knowledge management, research and writing blogs. Previously, Isabela provided communication and content management support to organizations such as the United Nations Volunteers programme in Ecuador and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in Washington, DC. Isabela holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from the University of Maryland, College Park and a minor in International Development & Conflict Management.
The gamification of complex development scenarios
February 12, 2020
Games provide players a low-risk opportunity to explore future impacts of climate change that can lead to innovative solutions. Simulating climate change and including a complicated set of factors and variables that need to be addressed over time can draw important insights and spur new ways of thinking without spending money. Gamification allows players to understand the impacts of decisions – good and bad – and can promote learning and dialogue on climate among a range of stakeholders.
Below are some examples of recent USAID in-person facilitations of games that motivated and engaged practitioners in development programming.
Simulation to connect policies with results
At the 2016 USAID Environment Officers Conference, Climate Interactive facilitated a world climate simulation exercise that mimicked an international negotiation session around mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. All attendees represented parties to the United Nations and worked together by using a tool that showed participants how their policy decisions translated into emissions reductions.
“The goal was to walk a group of USAID environment officers through a climate change gaming scenario to comprehensively understand what dynamics are at work in achieving climate mitigation goals,” said Jenny Kane, Biodiversity and Natural Resources Specialist at USAID. The game also allowed players to understand what the various stakeholder interests and motivations are, as well as which greenhouse gas mitigation actions have the most impact.
Board game to stimulate discussions
In 2017, Training Resources Group supported the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research to create a two-day training program that would bring together biophysical and gender researchers to engage in high-quality technical discussions. The training launched a game called “Blue Legume: Creating the NISE Equi-Pea,” which was used to address gaps in the understanding of entry points for collaboration between the biophysical and gender fields.
The board game contained research problem squares where players were tasked to propose a specific challenge around which the research team must design a genetically improved legume. The new legume had to be “NISE” legume, which consists of the following:
- Improved Nutrition and health
- Produce Income
- Natural resource and ecosystems Sustainable
- Equitable for women, young people and marginalized groups
This game ultimately brought together leaders and researchers from many disciplines across agriculture, genetics, economics, social science, and gender. The goal was to collectively develop research proposals to respond to environmental, technical, market, and population challenges. By addressing these different challenges across sectors, the outcome was to create a pea that is nutritious, provides income, is environmentally sustainable, and creates gender equity.
“A board game brings people together. The outcome was that people were excited, engaged, and had deep conversations, which brought them together to collaborate,” said Roberta Talmage, Organizational Development/Training Consultant at Training Resources Group.
The Blue Legume game and the world climate simulation demonstrated the potential of games to improve lives by motivating and engaging colleagues across disciplines to work together to address climate challenges.