Could the solutions to feeding a global population be found through a video game? A team of University of Nebraska- Lincoln Raikes School students are seeking the answer.
Listen to the interview.
The UNL Raikes School senior project required students to come up with a software-driven solution to a problem. The team created a video game, AgPocalypse 2050, to address issues producers face when growing food and feed for the projected global population of 9 billion people by 2050.
“We have to learn how to feed everybody with sustainable farming techniques, and we’re developing an educational game that will be used in 4-H and university classrooms to try to teach student how to sustainably farm,” said team member J.P. Fowler. “The eventual goal of the game… is going to be the nexus of how grain production, cattle production, and ethanol production, how all of these different factors interact and affect each other.”
Fowler says there was lot of planning and programming that had to go in to designing the game, including complying with domain logic and business rules, and deciding what the players could and could not do throughout the game, or what Fowler calls the “game-play narrative.”
“All of your individual decisions would affect everyone else. If you grow a ton of corn, you flood the market with corn, it drives down corn prices. How does that affect other players in your world?” Fowler said.
Fowler says the game can be played without any agriculture background. However, it is a deep and complex game that is designed for people interested in farming and sustainable farming.
“The game is going to teach you sustainable farming,” said Fowler. “It’s going to have tutorials and pop up messages that display best practices… It’s also going to let you plot your own course to figure things out.”
AgPocalypse 2050 currently only includes corn production. However, Fowler hopes AgPocalypse 2050 will eventually contain other row crop, specialty crop, and livestock production practices and become available in classrooms across the country.
(Photo credit: IANR Media)