Gaming simulation techniques in the study of environmental change and development
This research is concerned with the use of operational models, especially gaming simulation techniques, in the study of environmenial change and development. The main objective is to explore the potential of the technique as (i) a common language for learning and communication; (ii) a practical vehicle for user participation in design decision making process; (iii) an effective training device for developing a flexible planning style and (iv) a risk free environment for the formulation and testing of public policies. The study is presented under three main parts. The first part consists of two sections. The first section is towards a theoretical foundation of gaming simulation in planning, followed by a review of some Planning gaming simulation models in section two. Part two is concerned with the application of the technique in planning. A number of experiments (seven) were undertaken in which so to speak, the actors and the plays are varied and useful rules (all games are defined by rules) are tested and developed. Experiments include several of the utilisation of gaming simulation models in teaching; community participation; development planning; policy formulation and testing. Among the models used in this research are (i) National Investment Decision Simulation, which is a simulated decision making system in Nigeria applied here to show the difficulties of decision making through the mechanism of investment allocation to achieve national objectives and to reflect how state (regional) government makes claims from National government through its physical resources. A post game delphi technique was used to develop components needed for planning, (ii) African Village Simulation deals with the planner's style in developing nations and show how national planning schemes are perceived from the view points of the traditional and modem sectors. It explores the potential of gaming simulation techniques as an effective training device for developing a flexible planning style. The relative value assigned to four socio-economic variables before and after play is assumed to reflect planning style to some degree. (iii) BUG - Built Up Game: introduces the reader to an attempt in understanding the complexities and the dynamics of urban community through gaming simulation. (iv) GUTS - is a game on urban transport simulation based on a computer model of an idealised city incorporating the most important variables and policy instruments encountered in reality. (v) Edinburgh Airport Simulation attempts to model the British public inquiry system in order first to explore the law and second to discover techniques for resolving different views and interests. (vi) Participatory design decision making - attempts to illustrate the potential of a computer aided simulation technique as a practical vehicle for user participation in the design making process. (vii) Gaming simulation in the planning process. This is some way a mixture between the traditional approach and a simulation. It attempts to combine the close resemblance to a well defined piece of professional work with the facility of feedback offered by simulation gaming. Part three contains the main conclusions and the descriptions of those aspects needing further research work. Within the limits of the resources available and experiments carried out in this research are the following conclusions. Gaming simulation in planning provides a torm of language through which the planner can communicate important concepts and ideas to his colleagues, clients and the public. Participation resulted in attitude change. The most common types of attitude changes are greater realism and greater approval or disapproval of the real life persons whose role the participants play in the game. As an important tool for the education of the planner and the public alike, there is evidence that it hightens the interest and motivation of participants (experiment 1,2,3,4 and 5). Participation gave them insight, empathy and a greater understanding of the world as seen by decision makers. It is wondered whether in fact it is not just educational means but should be an integral part of practice to be considered. (iv) The experiments suggests that simulation can be used to obtain citizen opinion about planning issues. It helps in planning for the transformation of individual to group values and vice versa, and offers intellectual flexibility (Experiment 6). (v) Most participants in all the experiments found simulation enjoyable and a worthwhile experience. The exploration of this technique can lead to more rapid development of the ability of the planner to handle abstract systems. (vi) People without previous knowledge and experience of a problem can be members of a simulation group and still provide valuable information (Experiment 5). (vii) The experiments suggests that gaming simulation in planning provides a safe environment for future testing. It offers participants an opportunity to experiment with different strategies and policies and to observe the projected consequences of their actions. The modelled milieu of a game can in effect be a laboratory, where ideas can be developed and tested prior to actual implementation and where the planner can accumulate a factual foundation on which to base his ideas.