The Maladaptation Game – development and assessment of a tool for science-practice dialogue

16:15 Tuesday 28 May


Room S10


Tina-Simone Neset (Sweden) 1; Sirkku Juhola (Finland) 2; Janina Käyhkö (Finland) 2; Lotten Wiréhn (Sweden) 1; Therese Asplund (Sweden) 1; Carlo Navarra (Sweden) 1

1 - Linköping University; 2 - Helsinki University

Adaptation to climate change often implies making choices between different alternatives with little information about consequences of those choices. The Maladaptation Game is a web-based single player game simulating an adaptation decision-making situation, focusing on the potential negative outcomes of implemented adaptation measures. The game challenges players to consider trade-offs and discuss the importance and relevance of potential negative outcomes of agricultural adaptation measures from their perspectives.

The game address four different challenges for Nordic Agriculture – (i) increased precipitation, (ii) increased temperatures/risk for drought, (iii) increased risk for pests and weeds and (iv) prolonged growing season. While the first three are frequently discussed challenges for Nordic agriculture, adapting to a prolonged growing season is generally discussed as an opportunity for the Nordic region. Nevertheless, as adaptation can also capitalize on potentially positive effect of climate change, this challenge is included as part of the decision making. For each challenge, players have to choose between different adaptation measures, each with an assigned indicative cost, but also with a potential maladaptive outcome. Hence the player is asked not just to choose between different adaptation measures, but also to negotiate the potential negative outcomes related to each of the measures.

Maladaptive outcomes that are suggested in the game are based on a literature review on climate adaptation in Nordic agriculture, as well as interviews with Nordic farmers and practitioners (WirŽhn 2018; Neset et al, fc). Outcomes are categorized according to the conceptual framework for maladaptation (Juhola et al 2016), into three dimensions: depending on whether they are (i) impacting on the implementing actor or sector (ii) impacting other actors or sectors, or (iii) eroding sustainable development by impacting e.g. on common pool resources. In order to stimulate reflection and discussion regarding the different dimensions of maladaptation, the game mechanism selects different dimensions in the following challenge, depending on the selections made in the previous one.

This presentation focuses on both the design and development of the game as an example for a novel approach to stimulating science-practice dialogues, but also draws on results and analysis of test sessions made with agricultural practitioners in Sweden and Finland.

Preliminary findings of the study show that serious gaming can be an effective and stimulating tool for dialogues with agricultural stakeholders about complex concepts, such as maladaptation and assist on adaptation decision-making by opening new perspectives on the opportunities and challenges related to the adaptation measures.