So-called “serious games” are designed for purposes beyond just entertainment, and they can be a powerful tool for teaching, engaging stakeholders, conducting research, and evaluating public policy. For instance, serious games can:

  • Help players better understand complex topics and the interests of a wide variety of groups, promoting thinking about systems as a whole
  • Let players experiment with and see the consequences of different choices over time, promoting longer-term thinking
  • Create a high level of engagement with the public, potentially at lower cost than other more traditional engagement activities
  • Help policymakers and researchers understand stakeholder decision making and the way stakeholders may respond to a variety of policy choices.

In January 2020, OCTO’s The Skimmer newsletter compiled information about role-playing/simulation games that allow players to experiment with coastal and marine conservation, management, and adaptation actions (or inaction) to improve understanding of how coastal and marine ecosystems – particularly resource users and human communities – work. The Skimmer also interviewed three game developers about their experiences using their games in the field.

We are now in the process of updating and republishing this compilation. Our current list of serious games is below. If you have additional games for us to consider, please send relevant information to sarah@octogroup.org. We are specifically looking for games with a management or conservation component (i.e., not solely focused on species identification or ecology.) Thank you for your assistance!

Game: Ahli Bakau
Description: Enables players to manage mangroves
Target audiences(s): Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English, French, Indonesian

Game: Aquatico
Description: Raises awareness about ecosystem connections
Target audience(s): Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English, Indonesian

Game: Cards Against Calamity (online and cards)
Description: Teaches stakeholders about strategies they can use to build a more resilient community
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts), Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: EcoOcean
Description: Demonstrates problems (e.g., overfishing) associated with common pool resources to the public
Target audience(s): University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

**NEW** Game: Financial Freedom (also available for download on the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store by searching for “Fish Forever Games”)
Description: Teaches basic household financial management skills to build coastal community resilience to external impacts and emphasizes monetary and social benefits of adopting sustainable fishing practices and pro-social behaviors
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: Fishbanks from MIT Sloan
Description: Allows players to learn about the challenges of managing resources sustainably in a common pool resource setting with realistic resource dynamics
Target audience(s): Conservation and management professionals, Stakeholders, University and graduate students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts), Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: FiShcope
Description: Enables players to experience being a fisherman at sea, in port, and on shore
Target audience(s): Conservation and management professionals, Stakeholders, University and graduate students, General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): French

Game: Fishing for the Future
Description: Lets players explore how technology, population growth, and sustainable practices impact fish catch and fisheries management
Target audience(s): Elementary and secondary school students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English

**NEW** Game: Fishing Rush (also available for download on the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store by searching for “Fish Forever Games”)
Description: Raises awareness of the impact of reserved and managed access areas, fishing practices, and community organization on the health of artisanal fisheries and livelihoods
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: Game of Floods
Description: Teaches players about adaptation choices for sea level rise
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English

Game: GPMax
Description: Enables players to experience being a marine scientist working to protect marine mammals
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): French

Game: In It Together
Description: Brings stakeholders together around a map of the estuary to cooperatively explore adaptation strategies, weigh tradeoffs, and achieve greater local resilience
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, General public
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English

**NEW** Game: Jogo da Memória: Comunidades Costeiras e Mudanças Climáticas (Memory Game: Coastal Communities and Climate Change) [Contact maretorio@institutoayni.org for additional information.]
Description: Allows players to explore how climate change is impacting communities in Brazil through marine conservation, community life, and adaptation
Target audiences(s): Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): Portuguese

Game: LittoSIM
Description: Allows players to experiment with submersion risk management
Target audience(s): Stakeholders
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): French

Game: MarePolis
Description: Enables players to manage a marine park
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): French

Game: MSP Challenge (multiple variations)
Description: Provides a tool for building mutual understanding and communication marine spatial planning
Target audience(s): Conservation and management professionals, Stakeholders, University and graduate students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts), Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish

Game: Ocean Limited
Description: Enables players to take on stakeholder roles and negotiate interests in marine resources
Target audience(s): University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English, German

Game: Pirate Fishing
Description: Exposes players to illegal fishing trade and its negative consequences
Target audience(s): University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: Port of the Future Serious Game
Description: Supports port stakeholders and policymakers in achieving sustainable development
Target audience(s): Conservation and management professionals, Stakeholders, University and graduate students
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

**NEW** Game: Quebra-Cabeça Corumbau (Corumbau Puzzle) [Contact maretorio@institutoayni.org for additional information.]
Description: Allows players to explore the challenges climate change poses to life on the coast
Target audiences(s): Elementary and secondary school students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): Portuguese

Game: Reef Stakes®
Description: Mimics the complexity of multi-stakeholder decision-making processes and highlights threats to coral reefs
Target audience(s): University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students, General public
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English

Game: ResponSEAble
Description: Provides ocean literacy and sustainability education
Target audience(s): General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: Sand Suppletion Game
Description: Makes players aware of the struggles involved in sand replenishment, coastal protection, nature conservation, and local economy
Target audience(s): Conservation and management professionals
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: Sustainable Delta
Description: Enables better understanding of water systems and their related restoration and protection measures
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, General public
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

**NEW** Game: The Conservation Game
Description: Simulates a stakeholder participation for the implementation of a new protected area in a tropical coastal region
Target audiences(s): University and graduate students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts), Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: The Marine Ecosystem Services Game
Description: Promotes understanding of ecosystem service concepts through a role-playing simulation
Target audience(s): Conservation and management professionals, University and graduate students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English

Game: The UVA Bay Game
Description: Allows players to take the roles of stakeholders, make decisions about their livelihoods or regulatory authority; and see the impacts of their decisions
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: The Watershed Game
Description: Helps community leaders understand the connections between land use, clean water, and their community
Target audience(s): Stakeholders, University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English

Game: Tradeoff! Best Coast Belize!
Description: Introduces concepts related to nature’s benefits to people
Target audience(s): Conservation and management professionals, University and graduate students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts), Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English

Game: Tricky Trawling
Description: Informs children about the impacts of unsustainable fishing practices such as seabed trawling
Target audience(s): Elementary and secondary school students
Type(s): Screen-based game (e.g., app, online game, software-based game)
Language(s): English, Danish, Kalaallisut/Greenlandic

Game: What’s the Catch?
Description: Provides players with opportunity to experience benefits of sustainable fishing practices
Target audience(s): Conservation and management professionals, Stakeholders, University and graduate students, Elementary and secondary school students
Type(s): Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Language(s): English, Spanish