Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BIG problems - BIG data

As we are picking up speed with our NSF sponsored GeoGames project we are starting to untangle some of the very specific details of taking a well-researched role-playing simulation on the Green Revolution, and turning that into a computer game. While the original game is well described in terms of content and rules, there are always small questions left to be resolved. Our team played a short version of the game the other week and one of the participants commented that it was really tough when kids started dying in the family you are responsible for. It was hard to make ends meet, and this is part of the point with the game. There are no easy fixes to food shortage and starvation, and as we are slated to cross the 7 billion marker next week it feels even more important to come up with a variety of approaches to understand and address this big problem. If GeoGames could provide some answers for us remains to be seen but Thierry Gregorius' recent confession at the altar of Big Data is a testament to how fundamental the GIS world is changing.  Online Map Games (OMG!) have the potential to bring about massive amounts of individual-level decision making around realistic data, in contexts that embed some of the most pressing issues we face (such as rural farming in developing countries). We are eager to hear from readers of this blog what you think would be useful game scenarios to develop, both from an educational and from a policy perspective. What would be the most important human-environment simulations that we should construct and have thousands of players engage in?