This story was initially revealed by Hakai Journal and is reproduced right here as a part of the Local weather Desk collaboration.

Two kilometers inland from Hawke’s Bay on the North Island of New Zealand, a dark-red gate simply off the freeway marks the doorway to the Tangoio Marae. This marae is the place an area Māori hapū, or neighborhood, holds common gatherings and ceremonies. The situation appears good: surrounded by lush inexperienced hills, near the town of Napier, and only a stone’s throw from the ocean. However there may be one drawback: the marae is at very excessive danger of flooding. The hapū of Tangoio Marae have a critical choice to make about this place that’s so central to their neighborhood, and one in every of their decision-making instruments is unorthodox: a board sport.

Referred to as Marae-opoly, the Māori neighborhood designed the sport in partnership with researchers from New Zealand’s Nationwide Institute of Water and Atmospheric Analysis, or NIWA, with the express purpose of serving to the hapū determine the right way to handle the flood danger to their marae. Whereas the researchers from NIWA contributed scientific knowledge about identified flood dangers and projected local weather change results, the hapū introduced their very own experiences and values ​​to the desk throughout sport growth brainstorming classes.

“Brainstorming is actually necessary,” says Paula Blackett, a social scientist at NIWA who co-designed Marae-opoly. “It permits folks to precise their ideas on what might be completed [to address the flood risk], and why. It is fairly an inclusive strategy since you take into account the entire various things that might be attainable.”

A flip in Marae-opoly performs out in a number of steps. First, groups debate the right way to tackle the flood danger and select to both make the marae extra flood resistant by waterproofing buildings, elevating the flood banks, or enhancing drainage works; transfer its location; or wait and get monetary savings. In every spherical, a random “rainmaker” occasion reflecting the actual odds of utmost climate determines the rainfall for that decade. Generally the group is hit by a devastating flood, different instances it’s dry, however it’s not possible to foretell what’s going to occur when. Turns go on like this till gamers have skilled 100 years of local weather change, with the choices they made early on compounding over time.

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As soon as the sport was able to play, a number of dozen of the hapū gathered at their marae to spend a Saturday taking part in. It was a vigorous occasion, with groups debating their decisions every flip.

“Though it was a secure setting, it truly made folks notice that no matter choice they made there will likely be penalties,” says Tania Hopmans, chair of the Maungaharuru-Tangitū Belief, which represents the hapū of Tangoio Marae. For instance, investing cash early within the sport to avoid wasting for bigger bills may depart them vulnerable to greater prices because of flood injury, however spending a small quantity may imply inadequate safety in opposition to larger floods.

Video games like Marae-opoly are what researchers check with as critical video games — video games designed for a selected instructional objective. NIWA has been utilizing critical video games for just a few years as a means for folks to raised perceive the dangers of local weather change.

“Most individuals struggled with with the ability to combine the entire totally different streams of data that they want as a way to make strong local weather change adaptation selections in an unknown future,” says Blackett. Video games make that type of info extra manageable and let folks expertise it at a small scale.

Up to now few years, board video games have been used all over the world to show a variety of matters, from medical expertise to cultural historical past and extra. Like Marae-opoly, video games can be utilized to mannequin real-world environmental eventualities. For instance, Azteca Chess helped Mexican espresso farmers make selections about pest management.

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In response to Rebecca Bayeck, an skilled on the academic worth of video games at Utah State College who was not concerned within the Marae-opoly undertaking, board video games have inherent qualities that make them appropriate studying environments. “Collaboration, mathematical pondering, computational pondering — all these expertise that you will want within the twenty first century — are literally present in board gaming.”

Even commercially designed video games can be utilized educationally. For instance, Pandemic, a board sport by which gamers work collectively to cease the worldwide outbreak of a number of infectious illnesses, has been used to show group decision-making. Lately, the sport acquired new curiosity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as an off-the-cuff strategy to perceive the complexity of what was taking place on this planet.

However why board video games? Not like video video games, Bayeck sees board video games as fostering a welcoming area as a result of they facilitate in-person connections. Taking part in the sport “invitations private interplay the place you possibly can see the face of the opposite [players]see their expression, ask a query,” she says.

The informal setting of taking part in Marae-opoly allowed the hapū to overtly have tough discussions about their choices — to both keep and defend the marae from oncoming floods, or transfer the cultural and non secular hub of their neighborhood.

By taking part in the sport, Hopmans says, “folks can have nice arguments on the desk about what to do or what to not do, and the implications got here 5 minutes later.”

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Moreover facilitating debates, the sport additionally clarified advanced ideas. “One of many issues that has actually stood out for me is how folks take into consideration and course of dangers,” says Blackett.

As an illustration, the kind of flood that’s of specific hazard in New Zealand is sometimes called a 100-year flood, which makes it sound unlikely to occur any time quickly. The truth is that yearly has an equal probability of seeing a 100-year flood, and it is attainable to get two 100-year floods again to again. Local weather change can also be making these excessive floods extra probably.

Marae-opoly helped the Māori neighborhood of Tangoio Marae higher assess the danger to their assembly place and the way their actions affected attainable outcomes. It was a low-stakes trial for an necessary choice — and after weighing all of the choices, the neighborhood made their choice for actual. “We’re transferring the marae,” says Hopmans.

By a stroke of luck, an area farm not too long ago offered them a patch of land simply 300 meters away from the marae’s present website, on barely greater floor. “Over time, we nonetheless might have to maneuver additional,” Hopmans cautions, because the floods might ultimately meet up with the brand new website. However, she provides, “at this level, we’re positively transferring up the highway.”

Shifting a website of such cultural and non secular significance was a troublesome choice, with actual folks and actual cash at stake. However taking part in a board sport made it a bit simpler to course of.


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