Wednesday, March 24, 2010

RPG Science

We've seen before how video games can potentially be used by epidemiologists to model disease outbreaks. Scientists are now trying to harness the power of nerds RPG players to model multi-agent systems and create better decision making tools. In this case, players were used to generate knowledge for integrated wastewater management. From the abstract:
Decision Support Systems (DSS) based on Multi-Agent System (MAS) paradigm are promising tools to improve the integrated management. When all the different agents involved interact, new important knowledge emerges. This knowledge can be used to build better DSS and improve wastewater infrastructures management achieving the objectives planned by legislation. The paper describes a methodology to acquire this knowledge through a Role Playing Game (RPG). First of all there is an introduction about the wastewater problems, a definition of RPG, and the relation between RPG and MAS. Then it is explained how the RPG was built with two examples of game sessions and results. The paper finishes with a discussion about the uses of this methodology and future work.
The game itself seems a little dry - they could have at least substitued water elementals for rain clouds - but they do outline a number of ways this approach can be useful, both as a teaching tool and to generate knowledge about agent behaviours and outcomes. It's unclear, however, how it would deal with my 12th level druid.