The digital version of the game takes away the chore of manually tallying data and scores, and players can compete against others from anywhere in the world.
The board of the Landscape Game comprises a mosaic of squares, some covered in forest – which ranges from highly biodiverse old-growth forests to secondary forest – and others water catchment areas, agricultural land, etc..
Players make money by investing in plantations, ecotourism, forest logging, carbon sequestration and mining.
The government player has to manage its landscape sustainably, through rules, taxation, subsidies or penalties.
To win, players have to optimise the accumulation of productivity points (wealth in the form of cash and assets) with sustainability points.
Going digital will open up even more possibilities, as the game has also been adapted as an app for smartphones and tablets.
“Just imagine sitting there with your iPad. There will be no manual data tallying, the program will calculate and keep track of your score for you,” says the game’s creator, Herry Purnomo.
He worked on the game’s algorithm himself, and put it in the hands of a professional game developer hired by Cifor.
“It will be a multi-player interactive experience, and you’ll be able to play with anyone anywhere in the world.”
The digital version is more comprehensive.
You can choose from six different landscapes – investing in mangrove, peat land or montane forest in Java or Borneo, for example. Or further afield, try planting oil palm in the Congo, or setting up an ecotourism venture in the Amazon.
Herry says they’ve spent around US$35,000 (RM111,000) on developing the digital version of the game.
Fun and mass appeal
A lot of work has gone into making sure the situations that arise in the game are realistic. Above all, however, the game has to be fun.
Cifor ran a focus group discussion in late July to see how it can be improved before the pilot launch on Oct 20.
Professors and students from universities, and government department officials were invited to give important feedback in the context of Herry’s two main objectives.
“A government can come up with a great policy, but if it hasn’t determined how best to implement or monitor it, the public may find ways around it,” Herry says.
The incorporation of game theory elements could make the Landscape Game a useful tool for governments looking to stay one step ahead.
Different mental models can influence how people conceptualise nature, and this in turn will affect their behaviours, strategies and actions.
By getting stakeholders to play the game, insight can be gained into their various perspectives, and potential weak points in policy or enforcement planning can be identified.
Herry’s second objective involves the masses. He hopes the digital version will attract gaming enthusiasts in general. He wants the game to be engaging enough that the general public starts downloading and playing it.
“When it’s ready we’ll release it via various channels, our website and app stores. We hope to have 10,000 people playing this game by September.”