For the past two years I’ve been working to improve access to an approach that I believe could solve many of our society’s ills. The approach leverages games and computer simulations in tandem to make complex problems accessible and understandable to a wide audience and to bridge the many gaps between citizens and experts and between implicit and scientific knowledge. These gaps promote controversy and prevent innovation on so many of the wicked environmental, infrastructure, and social problems we currently face.
The vehicle for this work was Simulation for Collective Action (Sim4Act), a private company I founded with the highly accomplished arts and crafts master and GIS and remote sensing expert, Dr. Paolo Campo. The goal was to make the above approach available outside of its traditional settings –natural resource development projects funded by international organizations– to clients such as cities and water districts who suffered from many of the same wicked planning problems.
To accomplish this we developed prototype games; talked to a lot of people across Europe, Asia, and the United States; generated a lot of excitement; and were even finalists for the prestigious Echoing Green Climate Fellowship. Maybe we could have made it work if we’d kept chasing US federal and EU grants, and we had some very heady days around CA’s new groundwater planning requirements which looked like a perfect fit, but at the end of the day the interest among local level clients hasn’t materialized sufficiently.
A start-up is a search for a business model, and sadly we’re not close enough to having one to keep going. I for my part am going to get embedded in an organization, i.e. find a job. (My biz partner Paolo is also looking).
I’ve got some ideas about how to keep up our vision, using games and simulations to help people collectively solve “wicked” problems, but first, gonna find that job (tips and contact suggestions most certainly welcome).