The sea is the playground

The sea is the playground

BUas Games and Media research group apply their simulation platform throughout European Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) higher education.

Complexity of maritime spatial planning

Where the government used to pay a lot of attention to spatial planning on land alone, over the past decade we have seen MSP shifting into focus. By developing the MSP Challenge Simulation Platform, BUas Games and Media research group has greatly contributed to an understanding of how game technology integrated with geo data and simulations aids learning about complex systems such as MSP. With the sea as a playground, the platform supports game playing to sort out who wants what in and with the sea. After all, there are lots of stakeholders and processes involved in this, such as nature & environmental groups, fisheries, wind farm development, shipping routes, and so on.

Through an MSP Challenge session players do not only learn about maritime spatial planning, but also about the challenges involved in the ‘use’ of the sea. The MSP Challenge has already been played by many different groups, from students to policy officials, and from spatial planners to scientists. MSP Challenge editions were created for the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Clyde Marine Region.  

Impact of MSP Challenge research and development

One of the MSP Challenge projects was an Erasmus+ project called SP-MSP. During this project a total of 22 BUas Built Environment students were able to attend an MSP Winter School in Oldenburg in 2018, and an MSP Summer School in Liverpool in 2019.

Inge Noten: “The MSP Winter School gave me a broader perspective of domain of spatial planning previously unknown to me. I had never thought of the complexity of the maritime environment before. The MSP Challenge game was a difficult game to play with its many users and conflicting cross-border interests, but also a fun way to get to know such a complex field of work.”

Hannah Storm: “The MSP Summer School was a very valuable addition to my studies, as it focused on the connection between spatial planning on land and water. As the emphasis in my studies was more on the urban side of spatial planning, it was interesting and fun to get an understanding of how it is connected to the ocean and other environmental sciences. I enjoyed the guest lectures and it was a great opportunity for me to learn and expand my knowledge. I’ve made valuable connections from the experience.”

Recognised as best practice

The MSP Challenge Simulation Platform has been received enthusiastically by all parties. Moreover, project SP-MSP was evaluated as ‘excellent’ and acclaimed as ‘best practice’ by DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service). Summer/Winter Schools highly suited to our Built Environment students will again be organised, now as part of the follow-up Erasmus+ project ‘Knowledge Flows’.

Source: Games & Media Research