Aqua Ludens helps stakeholders in Groningen to shape the water transition together

Serious-game sessions facilitate dialogue and mutual understanding

Groningen needs a water transition to establish sustainably structured freshwater supplies that are tailored to and coordinated with the different functions of fresh water – such as drinking water, industry, agriculture and nature – now and in the future. Achieving this requires a dialogue, with water partners and partners from other sectors such as industry and food supplies, land use and climate. The Aqua Ludens serious game was developed to increase the understanding and awareness of water availability and interdependencies in the water system, and therefore to support this dialogue. In the coming months, stakeholders from the region will discuss the water transition with one another in a series of game sessions.

The dry summers of recent years have demonstrated clearly how little fresh water is often available. In the province of Groningen, for example, there are no large watercourses and fresh groundwater is in limited supply. At the same time, the expansion of green hydrogen production in this region will lead to a sharp rise in freshwater demand in the area around Groningen’s two North Sea ports. So freshwater supplies are feeling the pinch. The various stakeholders in the region depend on one another and they must, above all, work together to find a solution. But getting together to think about the water system of the future is not something that can be taken for granted.

Aqua Ludens serious game

To facilitate the conversation about the structure of the water system, stakeholders in Groningen will, in the months ahead, talk to each other about the water transition needed in a range of sessions with the serious game Aqua Ludens. Aqua Ludens consists of a board game in combination with a digital water system model that incorporates knowledge about the water system. In several successive rounds of the game, players make decisions about interventions in the water system with the aim of improving water availability in Groningen. Each player works for a specific portfolio of interests such as drinking water, agriculture or industry. That does not necessarily need to be an individual player’s portfolio in everyday life. Only a limited number of interventions can be made and the players must therefore make joint decisions. The effects of the choices they make are presented on an interactive dashboard after each round and discussed with the players. A game session lasts about two hours and 4 or 8 players can participate, with supervision from KWR game leaders.

Impressie van spelsessie tijdens de bijeenkomst van de Aqua Ludens begeleidingsgroep op 14 februari.

Impression of a game session during the Aqua Ludens supervision group meeting on 14 February.

Importance, operation and impact

The Aqua Ludens serious game illustrates the importance of water, how the freshwater supply operates and the impact of decisions on water availability. The game sessions show all stakeholders in an accessible and interactive way how freshwater supplies work, and clarify the impact of choices on water availability – whether or not the stakeholders have specialist water knowledge. The serious game allows regional stakeholders to talk to one another in an easily accessible way about the challenges of a sustainable water system and possible solutions. Would you be interested in joining a game session? Please get in touch with us.

WiCE and Eemsdelta Green

Aqua Ludens is a project under the auspices of the Water in the Circular Economy (WiCE) programme of the joint drinking water companies and it is co-funded by Eemsdelta Green. The game was developed in an alliance comprising KWR, WLN and NHL Stenden Hogeschool.