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A virtual globe based simulation game for awareness on potential adaptive capacity of wetlands in urban spaces.



Sea level rise, increased Flood or drought frequency and intensity are the major climate change risks faced by urban areas(1,2). Normally wetland systems including rivers, lakes, marshes, and coastal areas are basic infrastructures alleviating these problems(3,4). So any enhancement in terms of better management, planning of these resources related with urban areas will be a adaptive solution and driver to make cities more resilient against climate change.

This proposal is intended to create awareness on this relationship of cities and wetland systems by making a virtual globe based simulation game, Chipko wetlands. The game challenges players to embrace wetland systems against simulated climate change scenarios in virtual globe (Such as Bhuvan, Google Earth, World Wind etc) to make their chosen urban area more resilient. The aim of the proposal is to blend the problem solving and motivations of play, to generate interest on the game task and to make it as an important awareness creation, collective problem solving tool (5, 6). By systematically organizing and popularizing the game and its developments among youngsters, this proposal intends to popularize the wetland systems based adaptation thinking and in the long run to improve the game to make it as a crowd backed collective intelligent planning and management tool for urban leaders and officials.

Category of the action

Urban adaptation

What actions do you propose?

  1. Develop the game.

  2. Popularize the game as an activity for world wetland day celebrations.


The game: Play

The game comprised of five steps, which will be running for 15 days duration in virtual globe.

Step1: Choose city

The city where player residing or his/her favorite, the boundary will be the urban administrative boundary.

Step2: Demarcate wetlands

Every urban area is dependent of fresh water source and drainage facility. Wetland systems are catering these needs. Players have to demarcate these systems (Chipko wetlands/Hug the wetlands). It will be of catchment (rivers/streams, lakes etc) demarcation.

Step3: Model the system

Using the various prebuild models (viz., DEM, sewer system model, ground water simulation models, Runoff models, Sea level rise models) players have to create composite 3D representation of wetland systems in their urban area. This will be a important step, since this determines the adaptation or resilience of players urban area against various climate change scenarios.

Step4: Test the model

This steps is to make sure the created model is adapting to eventualities of climate change scenario by experimenting with various intense scenarios of flood, drought or sea level rise. Up to this the game play duration is for 10 days.

Step5: Play simulations

After the four steps of model creation and experimentation, players have to expose their city wetland system modeled infrastructure with climate change scenarios. In this step player will not have any control over the simulation. In this step, game duration is for 5 days and in which a total of 100 years of different projected climate change scenario will be running in virtual globe. The player task is to manage his/her urban area under this various climate change scenario and if needed to create new models or infrastructures to make it adaptive.

The game: Technical feasibility

Chipko wetland will be developed as a web client playable in web browser in which the virtual globe satellite view is set to be the base theme and all the 3D models and simulation will be added to this base as a layer stack in a Web Geographical Information System (Web GIS) platform.

For Step1:

Choosing a favorite urban area by player will be the game trigger and it will make the game software application to set the Area of Interest (AOI) in the underlaying game WebGIS platform. The Urban area administrative boundary will be from readily available GIS vector file formate such as ESRI Shape file or kml.

For Step2:

Demarcation of wetland systems by player is basically drawing of polygon shape in Web GIS platform. Demarcation of wetland systems such as rivers, lakes or coastal area will be assessed by the recent Land Use, Land Cover (LULC) map of the AOI. In which the wetland class of the LULC map will be checked with the demarcated area. It will be again cross checked with the Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the AOI. DEM of the AOI will be also used for creating the models in step 3.

For Step3:

The modeling step comprised of physical system modeling and system functional modeling.

The physical system modeling is based on DEM and shape file formate of the urban area street map, wetland system catchment will be modelled using DEM and urban area street map will be used for modeling the sewerage system in the urban area, which will be used for flood simulations. Creation of sewerage system model from road network is by a simple assumption of it from historical building of sewers parallel to the road network. The data for road network will be used from open street map.

The wetland systems' functional modeling will be carried out using the numerical models on various wetlands system processes. Free statistical software packages written using R will be used for this purposes. For hydrological modeling hydromad Rpackage and for ground water modeling R-Groundwater will be used. For use with gaming, R packages will be ported with scripting languages to make the calculations based on players requirement in the game application. For adding the geo-spatial element in the modeling result all the models will be tried to run in geogrids preferably 30 m resolutions to sync with DEM's geogrid resolution.

This step is the most complex and difficult step in game development, majority of the game development time will be devoted to research on this. For this step open source 3D game engines like DELTA 3D or pre build 3D objects such as Google's Sketchup which can be visualized in virtual globe will be explored. Usability of open source empire-building game “Freeciv” will also be explored. The game engines are used to create the virtual environment to simulate the flood or other climate change causalities in the game application. The “Freeciv” will be considered as the model for developing the Chipko wetlands.

For step 4 and 5:

Both these steps are involving running of climate change scenario simulations on the developed model in chosen AOI or player urban area. IPCC fourth assessment based climate predictions simulation such asGoogle Earth Climate change simulationssupplied as KMZ file formate or more advanced modeling framework such as Radically Open Modeling Architecture used in Climate Colab will be explored to use in this step(7).

To get help on the game development, real world problem solving game developer community such as Gameful ( will be contacted.

For Action2:

The game will be developed as a part of wetland Environmental information System (ENVIS) and will be popularized as a activity for secondary and early college students. A public relation campaign will be conducted to organize schools and colleges to take part in the game as a competion for world wetland day celebrations. In the inital developement and prototyping period, popularizing events will be conducted to get user suggestions and improvements in the development.

Who will take these actions?

Weland Environmental Information System, Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON), Coimbatore, India.‎

Where will these actions be taken?

The action1 game development will be in public domain and the game will be web hosted with special focus on piolet study urban area in initial prototyping stage.

As a piolet study the action 2 will be focusing on the few major cities of southern India for popularization. The major cities will be selected based on the logistic of conducting any field validation in the developed models to used as surrogate for developing the global level game.

What are other key benefits?

Planning and training tool(8, 9):

Games are increasingly used as a training module in different sectors. By field validation, the Chipko module can be made into a adaptation planning and management tool for urban leaders and officials.

Resource Monitoring and legal actions:

The game can be act as an resource monitoring tool. The virtual globe satellite imageries are updated frequently and it also shows the archived imageries, which can be act as mechanical turk based monitoring of the earth surface emphasizing the wetland systems. It gives further opportunity to take legal action with monitoring evidence against encroacher.

Ecological engineering:

It can give tools for generating new ecological engineering options which can be simulated in the game console and have deliberation of the stakeholders to try it out in the field.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Majority of the proposal cost is in Game research and development, game hosting and computation requirement during its running duration, Conducting events, popularization and field validation.

Cost on game research and development will be on hiring a full time developer and a researcher, costs around US$ 16722 for two years.

Cost on game hosting and computation requirement will be comprised of hosting fee and hiring of cloud computer during game duration which costs arround US$ 14,000

Conducting events, popularization and field validation which costs arround US$ 8,000 for two years.

Thus overall cost is arround 38,722 US$

Time line

The proposal time line comprised of two years for game prototyping and implementation.

Three work elements

  1. Game research and development- 16 months

  2. Field validation, popularization- 6 months

  3. Implementation and conducting events for 2 months

Related proposals


  1. Wilbanks, T.J., P. Romero Lankao, M. Bao, F. Berkhout, S. Cairncross, J.-P. Ceron, M. Kapshe, R. Muir-Wood and R. Zapata-Marti, 2007: Industry, settlement and society. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 357-390.

  2. JoAnn Carmin, Nikhil Nadkarni and Christopher Rhie. 2012. Progress and Challenges in Urban Climate Adaptation Planning: Results of a Global Survey. Cambridge, MA: DUSP/MIT.

  3. Erwin, Kevin L. 2009. “Wetlands and Global Climate Change : the Role of Wetland Restoration in a Changing World.” Wetlands Ecology and Management 17: 71–84. doi:10.1007/s11273-008-9119-1.

  4. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.2001. Ecosystems and Human well-being:wetlands and water Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC

  5. Göknur, Kaplan Akilli. 2007. “Games and Simulations: A New Approach in Education?” In Games and Simulations in Online Learning : Research and Development Framework, ed. David Gibson, Clark Aldrich, and Marc Prensky, 1–421. Information Science Publishing.

  6. McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. Penguin. com.

  7. Joshua Introne, Robert Laubacher, Thomas W. Malone . 2011. ROMA: A framework to enable open development methodologies in climate change assessment modeling. MIT Center for Collective Intelligence Working Paper No. 2011-03.

  8. Ritzema, Henk, Jochen Froebrich, Ramakrishna Raju, Ch. Sreenivas, and Rob Kselik. 2010. “Using Participatory Modelling to Compensate for Data Scarcity in Environmental Planning: A Case Study from India.” Environmental Modelling & Software 25 (11) (November): 1450–1458.

  9. I S Mayer, EVan Bueren, P Bots, H van der Voort and R Seijdel. 2005. Collaborative decision making for sustainable urban renewal projects: a simulation-gaming approach. Environment and Planning B: planning and design, vol. 32, no. 3, p. 403–423.

This proposal is part of project- New Generation Tools for environmental education, catalyzed and supported by RVPSP, DST, New Delhi through a science communication fellowship to Nishadh.K.A., under the guidance of Dr.P.A.Azeez, SACON.