Sunday, July 31, 2011

FishBanks Game Overview and Learning Objectives

Congratulations! You have just been hired to manage one of the principal fishing companies in your country. Together with the others in your company - captain and crew members - you will operate your fishing fleet each year according to policies you design to maximize your assets....

Thus begins the Role Description of FishBanks, a computer-assisted simulation game that explores the dynamics of renewable resource sustainability from the social, financial and environmental perspectives. FishBanks effectively teaches principles of sustainable management of renewable resources while illustrating the interaction of economics, biology, and group behavior.

Mechanics and Timeframe

Ideally each session takes 2 hours. But you can split this across two days or have the participants meet for an optional session. Of you can have them submit one-year of fishing decisions prior to each lecture/presentation period, and then you can hand them the results of that year in the next class or session. The game works well for groups from 5 to 30. We have run sessions for over 100 at a time, but it requires parallel oceans and it is pretty hectic.

Insights for Game Operators

The FishBanks game can become an important part of a teaching or learning program. Two insights are offered to new game operators: 1) Read the manual carefully and then operate at least one trial session of the game with a few friends, before you present it to an important group; 2) Use the game for at least five sessions, before you start changing the model or the steps underlying the game. There is a great urge in most gamers to personalize the simulation. The game already works quite well and has been updated recently. What is really needed is more investment in the techniques and the materials for debriefing the game – establishing clearly in the participants’ minds the important lessons and implications of the play.

With these two insights, and a little practice and creativity you can master FishBanks, making it a powerful and versatile teaching and learning tool for your own use in a wide variety of workshop and classroom settings. It conveys insights into a set of cause-effect mechanisms that underlies many different renewable resource systems. Important features of the systems that cause deforestation, ground water depletion, soil erosion, ozone loss, and other renewable resource problems are illustrated by this game.

Using Simulations for Learning

Operational simulations fulfill a variety of goals unrelated to their specific problem focus. They can be extremely effective in creating a friendly and cooperative attitude among the participants, enhancing the players’ communication or problem-solving skills, providing a set of metaphors and a meta-language for use in discussing the problems represented by the game, providing pleasure, assessing the effectiveness of alternative resource management decisions, or instilling a set of principles about the causes and consequence of basic phenomena observed in the real system.

We hope you enjoy playing and learning with FishBanks – Let’s Go Fishing!

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