UTFacultiesETNewsPlaying with computer models via a physical game board: the Virtual River game

Playing with computer models via a physical game board: the Virtual River game

In the context of the RiverCare research programme, co-financed by the Dutch Research Council and partners including Deltares, Rijkswaterstaat (the Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management) and Tygron, the serious game Virtual River Game has been developed. The purpose of the game is to explore together the complexity of river management, by challenging players to use interventions to achieve objectives in the game. To that end, players have to take various objectives (flood protection, nature and costs) and different interests (roles) into consideration.

An innovative element is that the game uses a physical game board – a section of river with the river gully, flood plains and dykes (see photo) – to work with computer models that are also used in practice to calculate the effects of interventions. An example of this is a flow model that calculates how water flows through the river and flood plain. Does the water stay on the correct side of the dyke or does it flood the hinterland?

Players change game pieces on the board to apply interventions, so they need no experience of the underlying models in order to work with them. Calculated effects are projected back onto the game board itself and are shown on the screen by means of graphics, diagrams and scores. Consequently, the game as a whole provides a level playing field for players, so both real-life experts and relative laymen can ‘safely’ experiment with potential solutions: in the game, the hinterland will flood, at most.

Would you like to know more and see the Virtual River Game? Until the end of May, the game can be seen at the exhibition ‘Playing Architecture – the City in Play’. If you would like to know more about the research carried out with the game, you can read the scientific publication (open access). If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Robert-Jan den Haan, who worked on and with the game as a designer and researcher.

drs. J.G.M. van den Elshout (Janneke)
Press relations (available Mon-Fri)