Simulation Game: Ground-Level Ozone

The Integrated Assessment Team at MIT has prepared an easy-to-use game that public agency staff, community activists, business leaders, and university graduate students can use to learn about (1) the problems associated with reducing air pollution in a densely populated metropolis like Mexico City and (2) the obstacles to using "good" scientific information in environmental decision-making. The game focuses on ground-level ozone and explores the obstacles to using the results of an Integrated Assessment for air quality management at the metropolitan scale. While the game is based on Mexico City, is applies equally well in any large metropolitan area.

The game assumes that eight representatives from federal, regional, and local government, business, and civil society have been invited to work together to negotiate an agreement concerning the best ways of combatting air pollution. They have to figure out answers to five very specific policy questions in a fictitious metropolitan area in Latin America. They have access to the results of a professional assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of various strategies for controlling dangerous emissions, but they don't necessarily view the available information in the same way. In addition, each reacts to scientific uncertainty in a different way. Each participant receives both general play casino instructions (that describe the political setting) and confidential instructions (that mirror the positions that "real-life" participants would actually take) on the policy questions facing the group. There is also provision for "facilitation" or coordination of the group effort by a local official.

The game comes with Teaching Notes spelling out how to organize groups to play the game. In addition, detailed "de-briefing" instructions indicate helpful ways of structuring post-game discussions of the usefulness of Integrated Assessment and the best ways of organizing complex negotiations on something as controversial as air quality management plans.


Integrated Assessment Report

The key learning point built into the game is as follows: The more stakeholders in negotiated decision processes regard the preparation and results of an Integrated Assessment as legitimate, the more they are likely to be guided by the results of such an Assessment and the more likely it is that they will be able to overcome the usual institutional barriers to effective inter-governmental decision-making.

The game was designed by Dong-Young Kim, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, with the assistance of Javier Warman, Jed Horne and other graduate students and faculty associates of the Integrated Program on Urban, Regional, and Global Air Pollution.

The game is available to organizations interested in learning about stakeholders involvement in decision making. It is free of charge; however, please contact us and let us know your feedback.