Globalization of Water Resources: Examining Social Learning Using Serious Gaming

Students holding up their country posters from the game

 “Serious games” or games that combine simulation and gaming aspects in game design for purposes other than pure entertainment have been increasingly used as a conflict resolution tool. It is believed they provide a shared platform for understanding as well as for training and learning in dispute negotiations. This study determined the relationship between the type of individuals engaged in serious games and the reached outcomes (i.e., characterization of the participants determined by where the game is played, and who is playing).  The Water Footprint Computer Assisted Board Game developed by the University of Twente and the Water Footprint Network was tested in this research.  The game encourages learning about water embedded in commodity production to compare social experiences over water resource issues in the commodities trade. The aim of this study is to assess changes in participants’ perception of the learning topic and examine impacts of the serious game on enhancing social learning in different academic settings. The game gave participants a first-hand experience of how complicated negotiations over water are on the international scale. Ultimately, this study found that serious games can be used to resolve complex problems in the field of water resource management with the subsidiary goal of “social learning” as part of the solution process.

Learn more about Fatima Taha's research in a non-technical summary and through her thesis titled Globalization of Water Resources: Examining Social Learning Using Serious Gaming is also available on Scholar's Archive.  This research has been featured in a recently published article titled Serious Gaming in Water  on

students at two tables playing board games
Students at University for Peace in Costa Rica playing the Computer Assisted Water Footprinting Game. 


Learn more about Fatima

Fatima Taha is originally from the Sudan. She holds a Bachelor of Science (Honors) degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Khartoum, Sudan. She is appointed a lecturer at the same university. In 2013, she obtained a postgraduate Diploma in Shared Water Resources from the University of Cairo and continued to work on the same field of study and sought a Master of Science degree in Water Resources Engineering from the University of Khartoum in 2015. She had been trained on international water negotiations at the Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee in Scotland. In June 2017, she earned a joint Master of Science degree in Water Cooperation and Diplomacy from the University for Peace in Costa Rica, the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in Delft, the Netherlands, and Oregon State University.

In addition to her master research, she also developed her own serious game “Conserve Oregon” as part of the HWeekend competition hosted by the College of Engineering and College of Business at OSU. The game requires players to solve issues resulting from historical natural events in Oregon.  Check out the rulebook to learn more about the new serious game "Conserve Oregon."

Conserve Oregon game board