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Geospatial Human-environment Simulation through Integration of Massive Multiplayer Online Games and Geographic Information Systems


Ola Ahlqvist1 Department of Geography The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. E-mail


This article reports on the initial development of a generic framework for integrating Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with Massive Multi-player Online Gaming (MMOG) technology to support the integrated modeling of human-environment resource management and decision-making. We review Web 2.0 concepts, online maps, and games as key technologies to realize a participatory construction of spatial simulation and decision making practices. Through a design-based research approach we develop a prototype framework, “GeoGame”, that allows users to play board-game-style simulations on top of an online map. Through several iterations we demonstrate the implementation of a range of design artifacts including: real-time, multi-user editing of online maps, web services, game lobby, user-modifiable rules and scenarios building, chat, discussion, and market transactions. Based on observational, analytical, experimental and functional evaluations of design artifacts as well as a literature review, we argue that a MMO GeoGame-framework offers a viable approach to address the complex dynamics of human-environmental systems that require a simultaneous reconciliation of both top-down and bottom-up decision making where stakeholders are an integral part of a modeling environment. Further research will offer additional insight into the development of social-environmental models using stakeholder input and the use of such models to explore properties of complex dynamic systems.

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