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

Jeroen Steenbeek, Giovanni Romagnoni, JW Bentley, N Serpetti, JJ Heymans, Magali Goncalves, Carlos Pereira Santos, Harald Warmelink, Igor Mayer, X Keijser, R Fairgrieve, L Abspoel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


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
Article number21
JournalEcology and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • ecopath with ecosim (EwE)
  • Ecospace
  • Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
  • MSP Challenge
  • Planning Support Systems (PSS)
  • serious gaming
  • serious game
  • simulation game


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