This story was initially printed by Hakai Journal and is reproduced right here as a part of the Local weather Desk collaboration.
Two kilometers inland from Hawke’s Bay on the North Island of New Zealand, a dark-red gate simply off the freeway marks the doorway to the Tangoio Marae. This marae is the place a neighborhood Māori hapū, or group, holds common gatherings and ceremonies. The situation appears good: surrounded by lush inexperienced hills, near town of Napier, and only a stone’s throw from the ocean. However there may be one drawback: the marae is at very excessive danger of flooding. The hapū of Tangoio Marae have a severe determination to make about this place that’s so central to their group, and certainly one of their decision-making instruments is unorthodox: a board sport.
Known as Marae-opoly, the Māori group designed the sport in partnership with researchers from New Zealand’s Nationwide Institute of Water and Atmospheric Analysis, or NIWA, with the express aim of serving to the hapū determine the way to handle the flood danger to their marae. Whereas the researchers from NIWA contributed scientific knowledge about recognized flood dangers and projected local weather change results, the hapū introduced their very own experiences and values to the desk throughout sport growth brainstorming classes.
“Brainstorming is basically essential,” says Paula Blackett, a social scientist at NIWA who co-designed Marae-opoly. “It permits individuals to precise their ideas on what might be executed [to address the flood risk], and why. It’s fairly an inclusive method since you take into account the entire various things that might be attainable.”
A flip in Marae-opoly performs out in a number of steps. First, groups debate the way to tackle the flood danger and select to both make the marae extra flood resistant by waterproofing buildings, elevating the flood banks, or bettering drainage works; transfer its location; or wait and lower your expenses. In every spherical, a random “rainmaker” occasion reflecting the true odds of maximum climate determines the rainfall for that decade. Typically the group is hit by a devastating flood, different occasions it’s dry, however it’s unimaginable to foretell what is going to occur when. Turns go on like this till gamers have skilled 100 years of local weather change, with the choices they made early on compounding over time.
As soon as the sport was able to play, a number of dozen of the hapū gathered at their marae to spend a Saturday taking part in. It was a energetic occasion, with groups debating their decisions every flip.
“Though it was a protected setting, it truly made individuals notice that no matter determination they made there can be penalties,” says Tania Hopmans, chair of the Maungaharuru-Tangitū Belief, which represents the hapū of Tangoio Marae. For instance, investing cash early within the sport to save lots of for bigger bills might depart them liable to increased prices as a consequence of flood injury, however spending a small quantity might imply inadequate safety towards larger floods.
Video games like Marae-opoly are what researchers check with as severe video games — video games designed for a selected instructional function. NIWA has been utilizing severe video games for a couple of years as a method for individuals to raised perceive the dangers of local weather change.
“Most individuals battle with with the ability to combine the entire completely different streams of data that they want so as to make sturdy local weather change adaptation selections in an unknown future,” says Blackett. Video games make that type of data extra manageable and let individuals expertise it at a small scale.
Up to now few years, board video games have been used world wide to show a variety of matters, from medical expertise to cultural historical past and extra. Like Marae-opoly, video games can be utilized to mannequin real-world environmental situations. For instance, Azteca Chess helped Mexican espresso farmers make selections about pest management.
In line with Rebecca Bayeck, an professional on the tutorial worth of video games at Utah State College who was not concerned within the Marae-opoly mission, board video games have inherent qualities that make them appropriate studying environments. “Collaboration, mathematical considering, computational considering — all these expertise that you will want within the twenty first century — are literally present in board gaming.”
Even commercially designed video games can be utilized educationally. For instance, Pandemic, a board sport by which gamers work collectively to cease the worldwide outbreak of a number of infectious illnesses, has been used to show group decision-making. Not too long ago, the sport obtained new curiosity through the COVID-19 pandemic as an informal option to perceive the complexity of what was taking place on the earth.
However why board video games? Not like video video games, Bayeck sees board video games as fostering a welcoming area as a result of they facilitate in-person connections. Taking part in the sport “invitations private interplay the place you’ll be able to see the face of the opposite [players], see their expression, ask a query,” she says.
The informal setting of taking part in Marae-opoly allowed the hapū to overtly have troublesome discussions about their choices — to both keep and defend the marae from oncoming floods, or transfer the cultural and religious hub of their group.
By taking part in the sport, Hopmans says, “individuals can have nice arguments on the desk about what to do or what to not do, and the results got here 5 minutes later.”
In addition to facilitating debates, the sport additionally clarified complicated ideas. “One of many issues that has actually stood out for me is how individuals take into consideration and course of dangers,” says Blackett.
For example, the kind of flood that’s of explicit hazard in New Zealand is also known as a 100-year flood, which makes it sound unlikely to occur any time quickly. The truth is that yearly has an equal likelihood of seeing a 100-year flood, and it’s attainable to get two 100-year floods again to again. Local weather change can be making these excessive floods extra seemingly.
Marae-opoly helped the Māori group of Tangoio Marae higher assess the danger to their assembly place and the way their actions affected attainable outcomes. It was a low-stakes trial for an essential determination — and after weighing all of the choices, the group made their determination for actual. “We’re shifting the marae,” says Hopmans.
By means of a stroke of luck, a neighborhood farm just lately offered them a patch of land simply 300 meters away from the marae’s present web site, on barely increased floor. “Over time, we nonetheless may have to maneuver additional,” cautions Hopmans, because the floods might finally meet up with the brand new web site. However, she provides, “at this level, we’re positively shifting up the street.”
Transferring a web site of such cultural and religious significance was a troublesome determination, with actual individuals and actual cash at stake. However taking part in a board sport made it a bit simpler to course of.