Combining ecosystem modeling with serious gaming in support of transboundary maritime spatial planning

Jeroen Steenbeek, Giovanni Romagnoni, Jacob Bentley, Johanna Heymans, Natalia Serpetti, Magali Gonçalves, Carlos Santhos, Harald Warmelink, Igor Mayer, Xander Keijser, Rhona Fairgrieve, Lodewijk Abspoel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


The Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Challenge simulation platform helps planners and stakeholders understand and manage the complexity of MSP. In the interactive simulation, different data layers covering an entire sea region can be viewed to make an assessment of the current status. Users can create scenarios for future uses of the marine space over a period of several decades. Changes in energy infrastructure, shipping, and the marine environment are then simulated, and the effects are visualized using indicators and heat maps. The platform is built with advanced game technology and uses aspects of role-play to create interactive sessions; it can thus be referred to as serious gaming. To calculate and visualize the effects of planning decisions on the marine ecology, we integrated the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) food web modeling approach into the platform. We demonstrate how EwE was connected to MSP, considering the range of constraints imposed by running scientific software in interactive serious gaming sessions while still providing cascading ecological feedback in response to planning actions. We explored the connection by adapting two published ecological models for use in MSP sessions. We conclude with lessons learned and identify future developments of the simulation platform.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2020


  • Ecopath with Ecosim
  • Ecospace
  • marine spatial planning
  • MSP Challenge
  • planning support systems
  • serious gaming
  • simulation game


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