Image via Intel Video
Water Wars uses a gaming platform to conduct a study on how people respond to water shortages. Intel Labs developers have ventured into combining 3D gaming with scientific research. In Water Wars, they've modeled an area of the Rio Grande in New Mexico and have created a role playing game that allows residents of that area to participate in different water scenarios. As the game creates new situations and water problems, the residents respond. Those responses tell us a little bit about what we can expect to see socially as the water crisis in the US and worldwide grows.
You can skip to about 1 minute into the video to get to the Water Wars game itself (though the whole video is interesting).
As Intel states, "This project explores the use of 3D computer games in environmental policymaking, allowing members of a community to help simulate water management issues to provide insight into better policy and enable more accurate modeling of human behavior."
For example, a farmer can manage a crop area and as the player is acting out their role, they'll find that there's less water than they need to grow their crops. They'll have to participate in different solutions from policy-making to water alternatives. The reactions of the players to different policies tells policymakers in reality how communities will probably react to different regulations and plans for water.
Intel wants farmers, real estate developers, environmental activists, manufacturers and many others who represent the reality of a watershed to participate in the game so that it can accurately model out scenarios and create a solution for rational, proactive reactions to water shortages.
A similar game was launched earlier in the year by Azure Worldwide and University of Virginia to model simulations of what different policies on water would do to the Chesapeake watershed over a period of 20 years. The game educates kids about water health, and gives policymakers and other community members some extremely valuable insight about the impacts decisions make on the watershed.
By modeling what could happen based on political and environmental actions, we can hopefully skip a lot of potentially disastrous trial-and-error moves and prevent possible violence over water, both here and globally. While not foolproof, games like this are certainly helpful.
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