Rural System's

The Gamma Game

The sequence of gaming opportunities leading to the riches of Rural Gamma

Gamma Game is an electronic game being designed and developed. It is a game played depicting events in typical rural settings. That setting is essential for the food and fiber of America and other countries, for its beauty and spiritual and historical importance. Proper play of the game and actual management of the lands and waters of the rural environment are critical to the survival of rural communities and employment for the people there.

Gamma Game is very complex, has several levels for different ages and competence. Eventually it might be the subject of an international competition, as with chess. Along with it is a strategy. The Gamma Game Strategy within the Rural System creates and promotes a unique game that is primarily educational but it has an objective of helping to build the demand for Rural System and its potentials. Its educational objective is to change the behavior of landowners and their managers to adopt and use computers and other technology to improve decisions related to profitable, long-term management of diverse rural land and water ownerships. It is recreational, adventurous, provides excitement and may become profitable for players as well as producers. It is expected to be profitable for Rural System and its affiliates. It has sub-games, for example:

Later, as the game gains popularity and specialized interests appear, separate game units can be created for enterprises of Rural System or for special crops such as those grown organically at Hiliya Resort in southern India (cardamom, coffee, ginger, vanilla, nutmeg ).

Players receive scores that are

Members of 4-H clubs and other youth and adult players play one or more of the Gamma units at computer terminals (from a CD or international linkage) or from hand-held devices. County champions are developed in each Gamma unit, then a state champion is held in each. All players may advance by improved scores to a totally integrated state championship in which they play Rural Gamma or perhaps, someday, Gamma Citizen. 70% US Adults have portable entertainment devices. More than 152 million Americans - some 70 percent of the total U.S. adult population - own portable entertainment devices, according to a report issued (2005) by the Consumer Electronics Association.

According to the study, consumers show a reasonable interest in hand-held content subscription services. However, lack of awareness may be to blame for the low number of consumers who currently subscribe to such services. Only 16 percent of online adults who own a portable entertainment device subscribe to a service that allows access to content, with 35 percent reporting that they were unaware of any companies that provided such services. These numbers seem to represent a significant opportunity for subscription-based content providers to educate the market and capture additional revenue.

It is believed that major prize money can be arranged that will make this game a basis for intensive study, the basis for university courses in agricultural systems, agroforestry, systems optimization, and certain levels of land-use knowledge competency and for TV media involvement equivalent to that for the play and players of international chess matches.

Advertising fund possibilities and ancillary activities (e.g., tours) seem great.

The fundamentals of the Gamma game are straightforward. These are: learning directed toward practical, useful ends suitable for different levels of age and expertise; having some elements of competition; having personal incentives; being realistic with play against uncertain natural events and probable changes; having immediate feedback; being computer-based; having uses that may aid in teaching. The knowledge for the game is based on experience and research and that required for sustained, high quality land use.

Further Notes

Markets

Income

Game Structure

Players - separate with competition or play against past scores, against individuals, after discussion by groups in opposition, in cooperative efforts to see if group work improves scores.

There are random elements within the games (e.g., storms, floods, thefts, disease) that occur. These can be "turned on (or off)" for one type of play, usually to learn the system and how it works and how the play progresses. Realistic play has to encounter these losses or difficulties, all of which require decisions.

The units are based on research results and knowledge. There are efforts to make the system general for the Earth but in many cases, we resort to Eastern USA conditions (anticipating that later successes will promote developing other major units such as one for arctic, desert, coniferous, or tropical conditions.

The game is played to achieve two maximum scores, one is profit P* (with special time and interest-rate considerations), the other a quality of life index, Q. This requires two complete computations to produce the two scores at the end of play. The player may use either or both …and even the relative size of one to the other.

A central computational center is envisioned now for simultaneous play by people around the world. Some data sources may be taken from a CD or electronic device of the player.

It will be necessary for there to be learning opportunities after each play --- options to visit certain instruction sites, opportunities to learn more about some factor or process, opportunities to play simple sections leading to better play within the larger system; opportunities to learn words (almost essential in efficient description of each play) possible a hypertext application with our Glossary. A small sub-game will be Gamma Glossary - a multiple choice game with a spelling unit option for knowledge of key words used within Rural Gamma ecology, the environment, and natural resources. Related instructional and game-like materials can be provided to augment certain units of the games such as time spent in effective work.

One desired benefit, an objective of the Gamma system, is to move past personal scoring success and individual competition into learning the advantages and limits of group behavior. It is generally likely that groups of players will score more highly than individuals … usually demonstrating past experience and learning can be advantageous, even if more reading or lectures etc. have not been engaged. Past work (graphed) has shown that scores increase rapidly for about 6-7 plays, then level off. If each play is a year of land use, then it may take 6 years of land abuse or suboptimization to " get it right." The computer can help. Rural System services can help.

Another part of the group behavior designs are for discussions to be held among students. There are many objectives for natural resources other than profit captured by P*. It will be important to discuss spiritual and esthetic values of resources, the effects of certain land use policies, and the means by which changes can be made locally (e.g., how to stop streamside erosion in a specific stream reach).

One concept reviewer said " I think the save-the-world yuppies would be intrigued by the idea of successfully managing and improving a national park. To be enjoyable, the game would need to provide surprising but logical/realistic cause/effects (like what happened when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone)."

The Rural Gamma Game is one strategy in "start small," said by many about Rural System. The game presents that concept, its design and its potentials and may be one way leading to its development and achieving its full potentials for employment, village quality of life, and improved natural resource management. It uses the computer itself to teach about the potentials of optimization and modern computer-aided natural resource management. The game may become one early part of The Slice Initiative for the Blacksburg- and-surrounding-county system.

The game is being designed. It may be released by or promoted by Novosports and the Products Group.

Consider correspondence or discussions with THQ Inc., producer of computer games, (27001 Agoura Road, Ste 325, Calabasas Hills, CA 91301, thq@thq.com, (818)871-5000).

Msc. References

Shaffer, D.W., K.R. Squire, R. Halverson, and J.P. Gee. 2005. Video games and the future of learning, Phi Delta Kappan 87(2):104-111.

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .

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Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 12, 2006