Simulation and Gaming for social and environmental transitions

Global changes related to climate, health, socio-economics, biodiversity, demographics, etc., are leading society to change its organization, its regulation, its actions, and its definition of its relationship with the earth system. These transitions call for cultural changes, which requires education, among other things. But they are also a source of inequality, tensions, conflicts, and oppositions between interest groups, and in this respect, it calls for debate, negotiation, and empathy. Sustainability requires the collective ability and willingness to plan for the future. Transitions also require individuals to know how to adapt, to find the capacities to change. Finally, transitions require redefining a common purpose, a different worldview that gives meaning to our actions, and knowing where we are. Gaming/simulation is a powerful mean to produce spaces of exchange and of multilogue communication around complex issues involving humans and their environment. Gaming/simulation is also a powerful tool to represent, model and simulate dynamics and interactions of different domains, ranging from ecological, biological, physical processes (often convey through the gameboard and its tokens), to social processes such as exchange, trust, power, regulation, innovation (often convey through players interactions)

The ways of applying gaming methodologies to accompany these changes are multiple and reflect the diversity of practices of the simulation and gaming community. This 54th edition of ISAGA conference aims to show the diversity of gaming/simulation practices for these transitions.


We especially welcome contributions discussing and/or demonstrating the following game intentions:

  • Games for debate - Games for the debate on the choices and orientations to be taken collectively for the transitions of our societies.
  • Game for change - Games for the acquisition of skills to take action, for change.
  • System thinking game - Games to educate and raise awareness of current and future changes and their social, ecological and economic consequences.
  • Foresight game - Games to explore the evolution of socio-ecosystems and imagine futures.


If game intention is a key aspect of a simulation and gaming practice, the context in which the gaming/simulation is used, is a crucial element in understanding how it fits in a social-environmental transition process. We will especially welcome contributions on the following contexts of use.

Games used in the context of a participatory process

  • Games in transformative process – for actors to transform the rules, values, and assumptions of their organization.
  • Games in public empowerment - for the public to take part in decisions.
  • Games in citizen science – for the public to participate in the construction of scientific knowledge.
  • Games in governance & management contexts: for stakeholders with divergent interests/skills to co-decide, regulate, coordinate, organize.

Games used in the context of training and education

  • Educational setting - for the young to be awake to the challenges of the planet.
  • Public education – for citizens to be aware and take their share in the societal challenges of global change.
  • Training setting – for actors to understand the socio-environmental systems (feedback chains, uncertainties, equilibriums…), their governance (prisoner’s dilemma, competition, cooperation, stakeholder’s interests…) and learn to cope with the interrelationships between humans and non-humans.


Beyond game intention and context of use, the gaming/simulation practice for social and environmental transitions, raises several epistemological and ethical questions that need to be investigated to advance research in this domain. We will especially welcome contributions investigating the following epistemological and ethical issues.

  • Investigating, classifying, making sense out of the diversity of types and intentions of gaming/simulation practices encountered in the scope of sustainable development and the social and environmental transition.
  • Coaching for change vs. persuading to change. The climate and environmental emergency has given rise to different strategies for using games to support change. These range from using games as a form of debate and communication mean, to using games as an incentive, or to persuade to change. What are the ethical issues raised by these different uses? Does the game rules impose a path to take that is the prerogative of the game designers? Can self-agency and free-play supervise these ethical issues?
  • Is the game a good vehicle for addressing the issues of transition?  What are the properties of games to address the issues of transition and what are the factors that contribute to successful transformative changes? Can games be a transitional space allowing people to redefine their relationships with others and the environment?


Beyond the theme

Beyond the theme on "social and environmental transitions", topics from all areas of gaming are welcome, including (but not limited to):

  • Gaming in support of decision making
  • Gaming for policy making
  • Gamification of systems and research
  • The methodology of gaming simulations for learning, research, and design
  • History of gaming and simulation gaming implementations as well as a meta-analytical analysis
  • Methodology for research on and assessment of games, i.e. measuring behavior and learning outcomes
  • Application of gaming in solving the grand challenges in society and sustainability
  • The relationship to play in society and the gaming culture
  • The social background of games and gaming
  • The blend of gaming with virtual and augmented reality, mobile and online worlds
  • Skills and requirements for gaming professionals
  • Innovation in facilitation and debriefing
  • Concepts, tools, and best practice examples of game design processes
  • New insights into interfaces and interaction design with games


Contributions may focus on traditional gaming methods, like computer and web-based simulation games, board games, role-playing games, etc. as well as on new developments of digital games, game-based learning, gamification, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc.

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