Planetary Health Game

Feeding the global population while protecting the natural world is one of the greatest challenges facing us today. One in three people worldwide are affected by some form of malnutrition – hunger, obesity or micronutrient deficiency. Agriculture is key for food security, but is both a driver and a victim of environmental degradation.

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at Edinburgh University brings people together to work on this complex global challenge. Postgraduate taught programmes at the Academy need innovative teaching methods to help students navigate the extremely complex trade-offs involved in feeding the world. Games are increasingly used as immersive teaching tools, where players can experiment and learn together. And so we developed the “Planetary Health Game”, where players battle to keep people, the planet and their own businesses healthy. Read more about how we developed the game.

In the game, each player is a Producer or a Consumer in a high- or low-income country, or an intermediary company. They need to watch their bottom lines – but the group as a whole has to juggle the global problems of greenhouse gases, biodiversity, obesity, malnutrition, food availability and water use. If any of these deteriorate too far, the whole team loses.

Each round, events happen which affect individual players and the global indicators. To keep things going smoothly, the team vote on policies which will each have their own positive – and negative – impacts. During voting these impacts aren’t shown, so the team have to draw on their knowledge of the food sector to choose wisely. The twist is that the indicators are all connected – so when you move your food yield up you might find your biodiversity going down!

Interested in developing your own game? I can help in lots of ways, from kick-off workshops to beginning-to-end game design – just get in touch!