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Understanding Complex Adaptive Systems by Playing Games

Author(s): Arthur van BILSEN | Geertje BEKEBREDE | Igor MAYER

Journal: Informatics in Education
ISSN 1648-5831

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Complex adaptive systems | Simulation games | Education | Infrastructure | Students

While educators teach their students about decision making in complex environments, managers have to deal with the complexity of large projects on a daily basis. To make better decisions it is assumed, that the latter would benefit from better understanding of complex phenomena, as do students as the professionals of the future. The goal of this article is to evaluate the relevance of the use of simulation games for learning about the complexity of large-scale socio-technical projects. Relevant concepts from complex adaptive systems will be introduced or described. The conjecture is that complex adaptive systems can be simulated by games, in which players are able to experience the system workings, and retrieve more insight in their complex behaviour as a result. The multiplayer computer game SimPort-MV2 illustrates this by simulating the decision making process revolving around Maasvlakte 2 (MV2), an extension of the Port of Rotterdam into the North Sea. The game has been played by hundreds of students of higher education. Based on this study, we present preliminary indications of learning and conclusions on how simulation games can provide insights in a complex adaptive system and be used to educate both students and professionals.
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