1. According to Meadows, elements, interconnections and a function or purpose are necessary components in systems. Describe the elements, connections and/or functions or purpose in the Chesapeake Bay watershed system. Diagram the system including these elements.
• Players (watermen, land developers, farmers)
• Decisions made
While playing the game, I did not find that another player’s decisions affected the decisions I made. I was largely unaware of decisions being made by other land developers and entirely unaware of decisions made by watermen or farmers. I expected there to be more of a connection between players of different occupations and more interaction, but each character made decisions based on their own financial interests, quality of life, etc. My initial diagrams showed a web of connections between individuals of different occupations, and these connections may still hold true in that everyone’s decisions ultimately affect others. However, when making decisions in the game, and probably in reality, we do not consider how our actions will ultimately affect others. Decisions are made on a more individual basis.
In the Chesapeake Bay watershed system, everyone’s decisions are made based on his or her own individual priorities, so the purpose was, first and foremost, to look after your own self-interest. The larger purpose, and the purpose on which we focused in the Bay Game, is to improve the health of the bay, but economy seems to take precedent.
2. Describe how your diagram and understanding have changed since your first diagram of the Chesapeake Bay watershed system.
As I said, I initially visualized the Chesapeake Bay watershed system as a web of elements and interconnections. I now understand this chain of actions and consequences to be much more direct. At first, I did not consider the individual people to be elements in the system, but rather I modeled the consequences of these individual occupations, such as pollution, erosion, over-fishing, etc and their affect on the bay. The Bay Game crystallized the real causes of these and pared them down to their human agents. My new diagram is much more linear and focused on the root of the Bay’s problems, humans.
3. How do you think delay affects the efforts to improve the health of the Bay?
There is a delay in response to efforts to improve the bay as well as in response to damaging effects. These delays result in loss of confidence in our efforts to improve bay health, because the results are not seen immediately and the strategies are therefore questioned. They also result in a false confidence that conditions are not as bad as some may say because the effects of our harmful practices, such as pollution, do not seem to have an immediately drastic effect.
4. What was your perceived understanding of the goal/s of the game? Did you think the overall goal/s “fit” with your goals as a stakeholder and citizen? Describe how your understanding of the goal/s affected your actions within the game?
I understood the goal of the game to be to act as your “character” (developer, farmer, etc) might act and incorporating what your own priorities might be in that situation. While the game was centered around saving the bay, it was easy to see how one’s own financial problems may become more important than, say, developing sustainably. I think that the overall goals were reasonable- it is reasonable for anyone to keep sustainability in mind- which is why it pained me when I had to make decisions that may not have been best for the bay. Keeping the goals of the game in mind, I tried to be as environmentally friendly as possible, while remembering that it is most likely difficult for the average land developer to be entirely sustainable. I tried to be realistic when developing my land, btu my actions were often curbed by my financial situation. In our specific case, I felt that the purpose of us playing the game was to test it and provide feedback for how the game could be improved and more user-friendly in the future.
We are improving the UVA Bay Game with each iteration and would like your feedback. Please share any thoughts you have on how the game could be better, what you liked, how it could be best used, and any other comments you have.
I think that the Bay Game might require more preparation and prior research on the part of the players in order to make decisions based on their role in the game. I do not think any of us were informed enough to make educated or realistic decisions as a land developer, farmer, or waterman; most decisions were arbitrary shots in the dark, and most of the game (at least in my case) was trial and error. We did not play enough rounds of the game to assess the results of this trial and error and make more educated decisions. I also found the game website confusing. This could have been the website’s layout or the fact that I was not well informed on the different components of land development (I did not know what most of the terms and numbers on charts and graphs meant).