The Basin Challenge is tool designed by CPWF-Mekong with support from Australian AID and ABC Science. The purpose of the game is to allow participants the opportunity to experience the challenges associated with developing a river basin. The game is played over 50 turns with each turn representing a year. In this way, participants can experience both the potential short and long-term benefits, costs and challenges associated with development.
The game can be played with two players developing half the basin each or in one player mode, where one player develops the entire basin themselves. Each player begins with $2 Billion dollars budget. Each player must use the “Catchment Manager ”, “Water Statistics” and “Game Statistics” Tabs at the bottom of the screen to manage the Basin. The Basin is a hypothetical basin, but the choices available to players represent many of the real choices available to decision makers in river basins around the world. The benefits and costs of these choices have also been modelled from real environmental and social data.
Players make decisions on how to develop the basin by moving the cursor over a grid square on their half of the basin. By clicking the mouse on the grid square they are able to select from a number of options including agricultural development and hydropower. Hydropower development is only available on rivers. Other decisions can be made including cutting down forests or developing tourism sites. Each choice will have economic, social and environmental impacts. Developments also take time. For example, a large hydropower dam could take four or five years to develop, with each year representing a turn for that player. Once a player is done with their turn and would like to proceed they should push the orange “Next Turn button”. Players can move up and down the basin using the arrows at the top and bottom of the screen.
As the player develops their side of the basin, their cities will grow. By clicking on cities the player can see the population of the city and other important factors such as city happiness and ecosystem health. When a city glows red it means that there is an opportunity for the player. This opportunity can be viewed by clicking on the city. If the player does not choose to view an opportunity then it will disappear after a few turns. It is the player’s responsibility to balance the need to develop the basin alongside social and environmental sustainability.
The Basin, as in other river basins around the world, also experiences random climatic events these events can be significant or minor. It is the player’s responsibility to balance the impact of these events along with the development of the basin.
The best way to learn how to play is to try – so please go ahead and see how you manage to develop the basin. The player with the highest score wins! Click to play: