The Bay Game | Playing With An Ecosystem

Last week, I compared how Richard Forman et al. and Peter Newman & Isabella Jennings examine ecosystems. While both readings describe the same concept through different fashions – Forman through broad ecological principles and Newman through specific strategies for cities – they are similar for emphasizing that humanity must fundamentally re-examine its relationship with natural ecologies in order to create a truly “sustainable” society. Many examples are provided in both texts, most being specific, relatively modest instances of man-made interventions in the landscape. However, in the Bay Game, we did not examine any singular instance. The game took the systems-based thinking explored in both readings and applied it to the whole region of the Chesapeake Bay. In other words, the game applied everything the readings did in a BIGGER way.

The Bay Game is an interactive exploration of the Chesapeake Bay, modeling multiple types of occupations, their interactions, and their collective impact on the health of the bay and on each other. Playing the game was especially powerful because we could see how our actions made an impact not only on the bay, but in our wallets.

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2 thoughts on “The Bay Game | Playing With An Ecosystem

  1. jw2zv says:

    I thought it was very interesting that you used “our wallets” as a motivating factor in the Bay Game. As educated people, we all went into the game knowing exactly how to save the environment and with a vague idea of how to make money off the environment. It was interesting to see what was the major motivating factor or goal for different people, or elements within a system, because the players generally chose wealth or the environment. Well, that is before they realized that environmental degradation was a negative feedback loop on their occupations. I think it would have been interesting for the game to include more interactions and connections between wealth and the environment. For example, decreasing bay health could decrease the value of your home, or decrease your aesthetic pleasure if you happen to have a home on the water. I thought that the negative feedback loops that surprised us as the game developed were the most interesting elements of the game and taught us the best lesson. After all, we are degrading our environments and not living in a sustainable way in modern society because we never looked for the negative feedback loops.

  2. theonlychase says:

    I found it interesting in your last sentence you mention “how our actions made an impact not only on the bay, but in our wallets”. This was something I actually addressed in Assignment Two about how the Bay Game, while addressing these issues, doesn’t seem to have a level of complexity found in other parts of the game as it does in regards to markets and money. For example, there’s little consumer feedback besides demand affecting prices. The game doesn’t allow one to see how consumer preference might radically change demand. People also weren’t allowed to leave their jobs if they found them unprofitable, thus affecting supply. New jobs and services and innovations aren’t factors either. The important feedback of how money is spent by the people demanding goods and services isn’t truly included. While in a basic way we can see the impact our decisions, in the game, have on the bay, I don’t think one can truly experience in the game how one’s decisions affect one’s wallet in as realistic way as one sees the environmental models acting.

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