The Fields of Fuel game is a multidisciplinary collaboration that integrates researchers from the school of education, department of Computer Sciences, the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center (GLBRC), and the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID). These partners are producing together a multiplayer, web-based simulation game designed to educate players about the economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with the development of sustainable bioenergy cropping systems. This game combines expertise from computer science experts, biofuel researchers and education scholars to create a tool that is both educational and scientifically accurate.
In this game, players – both students and the public – take on the role of farmers working to sustainably grow crops as energy resources, earn income and improve ecosystem services. In doing so, players engage in sophisticated systems-level thinking and learn about:
- Ecological and economic aspects of sustainability
- Short and long term dynamics of the sustainable systems
- Local and global impacts of individual farmer management decisions
Interacting with and making sense of game dynamics demonstrates the complexity involved with the sustainable production of biofuels, and helps to communicate current research more authentically than the traditional expository approaches used in schools. This collaboration also ties into a number of other projects, including the development of a decision support tool to evaluate policy decisions around biofuels production, and an online role playing game designed to crowdsource ecological and economic interactions in northern Wisconsin. The game is available at http://fieldsoffuel.org