ReefGame is a linked board game and computer model that can be used to explore alternative and supplemental livelihoods and coral reef conservation. The tool has been successfully used in the Philippines and a variety of student workshops. In the field, REEFGAME operated as a two-way learning tool, helping local fishers better understand their collective impacts on the marine ecosystem and providing researchers with insights into fisher livelihood strategies. This demonstrates the game’s ability to serve as powerful springboard for social learning and discussion among stakeholders, while providing useful scientific insights into decision-making processes. Although not specifically designed for the purpose, REEFGAME has also been used in the university setting to facilitate student engagement and demonstrate a range of social and ecological concepts.
The game is supported by two identical boards representing a virtual coastal area with an offshore island. Information available on the board is: the natural habitat (mangrove, seagrass, and coral) and the players' home. An Agent Based Model (ABM) of the game is run during the playing sessions to compute and deliver fishing catches, players' incomes and habitat transitions.
Ten paired players are allocated on each board and take the role of fisherman and head of family. Players' profile includes number of members in his household, income needs and boat type. Each player's objective is to provide enough food for his/her family through fishing and/or extra activity incomes.
The game is divided into 5 steps, each one being played for 1 to 4 rounds. The first step is dedicated to fishing procedures. The second step introduces alternative livelihood procedures while the third step focuses on household procedures. Fourth and fifth steps aim to explore respectively Marine Protected Areas and Tourism activities. Debriefing sessions are held between steps to capture players' decisions and understanding of the game. An important final debriefing stage is then dedicated to collective analysis of the situation and proposals for new scenarios.
Learn more about ReefGame and how it has been used:
- Cleland, Deborah and Raissa O’Caya San Jose (2018) Rehearsing inclusive participation through fishery stakeholder workshops in the Philippines, Conservation and Society, 16(3) 351-362 PDF: ConservatSoc000-1880994_003120
- Cleland, Deborah (2017) A playful shift: field-based experimental games offer insight into capacity reduction in small-scale fisheries, Ocean and Coastal Management, 144: 129-137
- Cleland, Deborah (2017) Viable metaphors: the art of participatory modelling for communicating sustainability science. Knowledge Management for Development Journal 13(1): 39-55
- Cleland, Deborah (2011) If wishes were fishes, Griffith Review 32: Wicked Problems, Exquisite Dilemmas (p233-240)
- Cleland, Deborah, Anne Dray, Pascal Perez, Annabelle Cruz-Trinidad and Rollan Geronimo (2012) Simulating the dynamics of subsistence fishing communities REEFGAME as a learning and data-gathering computer-assisted role-play game. Simulation & Gaming. 43: 102-117
- Cleland, Deborah, Anne Dray, Pascal Perez and Rollan Geronimo (2010) SimReef and ReefGame: gaming for integrated reef research and management. In D. Cleland, J. Melbourne-Thomas, M. King & G. Sheehan (Eds.), Building capacity in coral reef science: An anthology of CRTR scholars’ research 2010 (pp. 123-129). St Lucia: University of Queensland
Contact: deborah.cleland [at] gmail.com