Eye roller study: Make farmers play computer games to understand climate threat

From the Journal De Gruyter comes this bit of ridiculous activist outreach disguised as science which builds on the meme of “if only we could communicate climate change better, people would accept it and be just as alarmed as we are.

Basically, they collected a bunch of people in a room, had them play a computer game they designed where agriculture is threatened by “climate change”, queried them afterwards, and declared the process “sciencey”. Of course the game excludes other real-world variables that farmers deal with like financing the planting, fuel costs, irrigation costs, overhead, equipment maintenance, and value of the crop at harvest.

On the face of it, this study appears to be an absurd case of confirmation bias.

Could computer games help farmers adapt to climate change?

Scientists from Sweden and Finland say gaming presents both challenges and benefits for communicating climate change methods to farmers

Web-based gaming, such as simulation games, can promote innovative communication strategies that engage farmers with scientific research and help them adapt to climate change.

Methods employed to tackle climate change, such as, for example, improving drainage systems to cope with increased levels of precipitation, are known as adaptation strategies. “Maladaptation” is the implementation of poor decisions or methods that were initially considered beneficial, but which could actually increase people’s vulnerability in the future.

Researchers from Sweden and Finland have developed the interactive web-based Maladaptation Game, which can be used to better understand how Nordic farmers make decisions regarding environmental changes and how they negotiate the negative impacts of potentially damaging decisions.

Their research is presented in the article “Benefits and challenges of serious gaming – the case of “The Maladaptation Game” published in De Gruyter’s journal Open Agriculture, by author Therese Asplund and colleagues from Linköping University in Sweden and the University of Helsinki in Finland. Tested on stakeholders from the agricultural sector in Sweden and Finland, the Maladaptation Game presents the player with four agricultural challenges: precipitation, temperature increase/drought, longer growing seasons and increased risk of pests and weeds. For each challenge, the player must make a strategic decision based on the options given. At the end, the player receives a summary of the potential negative outcomes based on their decisions.

“While we observed that the conceptual thinking of the game sometimes clashes with the players’ everyday experiences and practice, we believe gaming may function as an eye-opener to new ways of thinking,” explains Asplund.

Based on recent literature on serious gaming and climate communication, the authors suggest that serious games should be designed to include elements of thinking and sharing, which will stimulate reflection and discussion among stakeholders.

“Serious games have great potential of how to address complex environmental issues. Used as a communication strategy, they illustrate, visualise and communicate research findings,” says Asplund.


The paper: Benefits and challenges of serious gaming – the case of “The Maladaptation Game”


The use of digital tools and interactive technologies for farming systems has increased rapidly in recent years and is likely to continue to play a significant role in meeting future challenges. Particularly games and gaming are promising new and innovative communication strategies to inform and engage public and stakeholders with scientific research. This study offers an analysis of how a research based game on climate change maladaptation can support, but also hinder players’ sense-making processes. Through the analysis of eight gaming workshops, this study identifies challenges and support for the players’ sense-making. While it concludes that conceptual thinking of game content sometimes clashes with players’ everyday experiences and practice, possibly resulting in loss of credibility, this study also concludes that gaming may function as an eye-opener to new ways of thinking. Overall, this paper suggests that the communication of (social) science and agricultural practices through serious gaming has great potential but at the same time poses challenges due to different knowledge systems and interpretive frameworks among researchers and practitioners.


The game is open to anyone to try, screen cap below:

In my opinion, the game has an almost grade-school level “toyish” feel, which probably won’t appeal to farmers who live in the real-world of production. I’d venture that farmers are probably more acutely aware of weather and climate than the researchers are.

There are far better and more realistic farm simulation games that take ALL of the factors farmers have to deal with into account:T

Farm Simulator 2019 for Xbox

A review had this to say about it:

Farming Simulator’s biggest fans are farmers, dev says

“It’s very popular with people in the agricultural industry,” Schwegler said. “They are the most vocal audience we have — people who are actually farming. They’re very active on our forums and they’ll tell us if we’re doing something wrong.”

There’s also this one:

Sim Farm for PC

About the product

  • Like SimCity, SimFarm has an easy to use push-button interface. It lets you concentrate on running your farm- not on running your computer.
  • Use the latest tools of the trade to produce your crops and raise your livestock.
  • After your hard work is done, it’s time to reap the profits of your labor. Go to town and get top dollar for your harvest.
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Sweet Old Bob
April 20, 2019 12:09 pm

Farmers frequently like to “play” “city slickers …”
Did that ever cross the minds of the “researchers ” ?

Curious George(@moudryj)
Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
April 20, 2019 12:55 pm

Farmers should certainly play computer games instead of farming 🙂

Is the average age of these “scientists” below 20? It feels like it .. computer games, climate models, …

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Curious George
April 20, 2019 1:05 pm

Hey now, I play World of Warships and World of Warplanes just because they are so historically accurate and educational. It’s great fun with the GForce GTX 1060 video card I bought used on Ebay!

mike the morlock
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 20, 2019 1:25 pm

Pop Piasa April 20, 2019 at 1:05 pm

WOW, me to and I share your humor .
(king Mike 57)


Pop Piasa
Reply to  mike the morlock
April 20, 2019 3:48 pm

I’m Chief Sharkey. Still learning the game, but real busy with planting so I’m not playing right now.

Reply to  Curious George
April 20, 2019 1:13 pm

That’s my thinking as well. Say no to tangible goods. Say no to vegetables. Veganism is a first order forcing of climate change. Imbibe the empathetic signals. Not one more groundhog aborted, harassed, or displaced by an agricultural or green tech farm. Save the prairie dog! Let the chickens roam free, and the foxes, too.

Reply to  Curious George
April 20, 2019 1:34 pm

Speaking as a farmer, I already have a “computer game” that helps me evaluate the climate: It’s called my general ledger. It’s had me grinning more often than not lately . . .

KR Wolf
Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
April 21, 2019 10:28 am

Farmers still play city slickers? Thought we were all too discouraged with the urbanites making bad rules for us to still play them.
I learned as a kid in Montana the fun Blackfeet and Salish take in playing outsiders. Later found same with Alaska natives. It’s a game. If you catch on, good for you. Maybe you’ve learned something . . .

April 20, 2019 12:19 pm

Political indoctrination has a bad name. Marxists call it education but there’s a big difference.

Anyone proposing indoctrination should be tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail.

April 20, 2019 12:28 pm

“It’s very popular with people in the agricultural industry,”

LOL…it’s their target audience…no one else is playing it

…I’ll bet Tom Ford is not playing it…and not a fan

April 20, 2019 1:07 pm

This is so green. So, the farmers will play computer games, deliver virtual goods to consumers, post self-ishes to Twitter, and earn medals for broadcasting empathetic signals. Perfect.

Pop Piasa
April 20, 2019 1:13 pm

Well, if the guv-mint gonna send me a check for playin games, Git ‘er dun!
Maybe next winter we’ll have time around here (or in Phoenix) to play…
Better get the android version.

Richard of NZ
Reply to  Pop Piasa
April 20, 2019 2:06 pm

Do androids dream of electric sheep?

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Richard of NZ
April 20, 2019 3:55 pm

My android only plays a song that Samsung. 🤣⚡🐑

April 20, 2019 1:29 pm

While it concludes that conceptual thinking of game content sometimes clashes with players’ everyday experiences and practice, possibly resulting in loss of credibility

In other words, when the game only has options for a longer growing season, when the farmer just had a late, wet season start. Or it assumes farmers can’t adapt to change, when they already have.

And how long before the Leftists running this game decide they need to push all there OTHER beliefs into it? Mandatory ‘Organic’ farming and Glyphosate Panic isn’t going to impress most comercial farmers. And neither will haveing the game start pushing SJW nonsense. And it will happen, the Left simply can’t help themselves from always needing to include ALL their beliefs, all the time.


Reply to  Schitzree
April 22, 2019 8:13 am

per the quote- perhaps a game that is obviously wrong(not matching reality and usual farming results) doesn’t mean a loss of credibility for the game, but more likely the ideas behind it. If it’s like most “games” of this kind, the SIM series comes to mind, the backdrop, the basic game facts are all wrong so there is no credibility to be had.

April 20, 2019 1:31 pm

So only a computer game (i.e. a fantasy) can make people understand reality?!?!? That’s an argument completely devoid of logic.

April 20, 2019 1:31 pm

Sounds like some academics need to spend time working on a farm. Dawn to dusk with no time for playing with computers.

Reply to  icisil
April 20, 2019 1:37 pm

Can I start ’em off with picking rocks? 😉

Reply to  Goldrider
April 20, 2019 1:43 pm

Excellent. Anything to get their minds off their virtual reality.

April 20, 2019 1:37 pm

The models have demonstrated no skill to project climate forward or backward. Worst case scenario, the children’s climate change adventure will serve to distract from hazardous local effects that can be observed, reproduced, mitigated, and resolved. A catastrophic misalignment forced by a minority in the spirit of “The Great Leap”.

April 20, 2019 1:43 pm

I worked for a small LLC consortium of farmers for summers during HS. Two brothers and a cousin farming 6k acres in Southern Oregon. Mostly Dairy feed, #1 alfalfa and oat hay. But they ran a few hundred head of cattle, potatoes, and assorted crops. They all held Masters in Ag degrees, and were as intellectually proficient as agronomists and economists as they were physically proficient running and repairing ALL their farm equipment, running the very first ICE Harrow beds, and installing some of the first center-pivot irrigation systems.

I get the distinct impression from this childish proposal that some CAGW eco-dolt sitting in a government (taxpayer) funded office building somewhere has the impression that America’s farmers are simpletons living in flyover country. The derision implied in this idiotic proposal illustrates just how OUT OF TOUCH and ignorant the CAGW eco-hysterics really are. What a sickening bunch of self-important NOTHING’s who wouldn’t know an honest day’s WORK if kicked em in the head.

Reply to  kenji
April 20, 2019 3:42 pm

…first milking is at 3am…..they would never understand that

Reply to  Latitude
April 20, 2019 10:18 pm

Nah! You can pick your milk up from the supermarket any time.

Reply to  Latitude
April 21, 2019 9:38 am

And that first milking is 7 days a week, 365 days a year. They really wouldn’t understand that!

April 20, 2019 1:50 pm

“For each challenge, the player must make a strategic decision based on the options given.”

This one is probably not included.
Because CO2, Diesel has been banned. No diesel for tractors, no diesel for trucks. What would you do?
* sell the farm while you still can
* buy oxen and horses
* look for an electric tractor
* other

Reply to  Toto
April 20, 2019 2:20 pm

Make biodiesel. Make a gasifier.

Reply to  Toto
April 20, 2019 3:48 pm

* ferry in migrant workers from the Niger Delta.

Reply to  RLu
April 20, 2019 4:45 pm

Give each one a hoe …

And when they’re done with that, they can help with the farming too

Reply to  Toto
April 20, 2019 7:57 pm

Buy a gun.

April 20, 2019 1:55 pm

I’ve got a better idea…..make a computer game that UN climate goons to help them understand the need for efficient food production.

As Dwight D Eisenhower said, “farming looks might easy when your plow is a pencil and you are a thousand miles from the corn field”.

Reply to  Joey
April 20, 2019 7:58 pm

There is one. I played it in the 70’s; it was called Hamurabi.

Bruce Cobb
April 20, 2019 2:03 pm

Climate change. So easy a farmer could do it.

April 20, 2019 2:31 pm

A board game from thirty years ago was cunningly realistic.

On the outer Barcoo
April 20, 2019 2:51 pm

Academics with their heads in a cloud of theory, who feet have never trodden on a cow pat …

Pop Piasa
Reply to  On the outer Barcoo
April 20, 2019 4:05 pm

That reminds me of the young lady who is establishing herself as a farrier in our area who had to attend U of IL to get certified, but found that what she learned from the guy who apprenticed her was much more helpful than the theory that academics have about properly shoeing a horse.

April 20, 2019 2:58 pm

Help, please deGruyter help! I was just playing TheGame on my iphone among some crops out in the field & now some stamens identify as pistils, while some pistils identify as stamens. And that’s not all: some of the ladybugs refuse to eat my plants’ aphids because I inadvertantly mis-gendered one, or two, while distracted playing TheGame.

HD Hoese
April 20, 2019 3:10 pm

“….but at the same time poses challenges due to different knowledge systems and interpretive frameworks among researchers and practitioners.” Some models seem better described as computer games, but realistic simulation has long been used in training flying. Then real flying is necessary, however. Do any of these games lead to getting into the dirt and manure? Or dodging real angry bulls?

Off subject a little but was recently discussing this similar avoiding of real work.

Natural and unnatural oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico. Available from:

“SAR and other satellite-based remote sensing of surface oil have provided unparalleled coverage of the Gulf of Mexico over space and time. However, estimates of volume and flux must be qualified by the fact that thickness determination using present remote sensing technology remains imprecise…… In many ways, the physical oceanography of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico was markedly underobserved during one of the greatest environmental crises in U.S. history, and it remains so in the aftermath.”

Tearing oceanography students away from their screen has been a problem. Simulation cuts down on seasickness, or at least the land is closer.

old construction worker
April 20, 2019 3:17 pm

I bet old framers didn’t play the “game”.

Serge Wright
April 20, 2019 3:41 pm

I find it amusing that the alarmist community consider that weeds and pests will override the benefits of a warmer climate for crop production. The alarmist notion being that whilst farmers have been using insecticides and hericides to control pests and weeds very successfully for the past century, including in warmer climates, this practice will now stop for reasons unknown. Meanwhile, warmer years still continue to produce bigger crops than cold years, for reasons unknown.

The levele of intellect in the alarmist community makes the dumb and dumber characters appear as intellectual giants by comparison.

April 20, 2019 4:02 pm

Farmers are ahead of nearly everyone in keeping an eye on the weather and climate and do not need any silly computer games to keep them in touch with reality.

Christopher Simpson
April 20, 2019 4:08 pm

“While we observed that the conceptual thinking of the game sometimes clashes with the players’ everyday experiences and practice, we believe gaming may function as an eye-opener to new ways of thinking,” explains Asplund.”

I’m going to stop laughing in a little while. I swear.

John in Oz
April 20, 2019 4:17 pm

Even a one-legged person can pole vault in a computer game.

Back in the real world…………

Johann Wundersamer
April 20, 2019 4:38 pm

most important computer game is probably double-entry accounting.

April 20, 2019 6:48 pm

Oh great!
Another “Die in the desert” game where real world solutions fail while imaginary unicorn fairy solutions sometimes work.

As if the farmers don’t already have poor enough opinions of certain scientists and urbanites.

April 20, 2019 8:29 pm

If it were a real issue there would be no need to indoctrinate farmers (nor anyone else) about it, they would already see it as such.

April 21, 2019 7:04 am

These researchers from Sweden and Finland likely have a point since farmers as a group are probably some of the most skeptical observers of the whole CAGW effort.
Living with weather and its implications for the bottom line drives farmers to pay close attention to environmental conditions every day of the year.
The reason for farmer’s skepticism is likely because the weather remains the same way it has always been; an unpredictable and cruel task master.

April 21, 2019 9:27 am

Farmers are too busy working, to play games.

April 21, 2019 10:14 am

Back in the dark ages I got to work the mules my father liked. I got to learn just how much fun it was to degrass cotton and tobacco by walking down the rows with a hoe. Tobacco without any automation other than a tractor was fun. I learned that you could completely remove Johnson grass in a badly infested acre by pulling it by hand in your spare time. You get water out of the fields by hand-digging ditches. Sure made me a strong believer in all the automation and select chemical warfare around.

It gave me a strong motivation to run away from home and hide out in the university for chemistry degrees.

Maybe these computer experts should spend some time in 95 degree weather doing real manual farming. That would be real indoctrination.

John Larson
April 21, 2019 12:43 pm

I’m 73 yo and I remember my Grandpa say (I can’t remember the year) that it hasn’t been this hot for this long since 1910. Farmers are an encyclopedia of weather over many years. If all that data could be put together you would have an excellent analysis of “climate” trends.

Reasonable Skeptic
April 22, 2019 5:47 pm

Farmers play the game for real and they have a whole lot at stake if they make bad decisions, so they have the incentive to know what is happening. Only engineers would think that a game would help them understand the gravity of climate change.

Barry Bateman
May 1, 2019 12:04 pm

You’re right Anthony. Every year I play a little climate game called crop fertility. It can cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every year. It’s based on a thirty-year precipitation record (making it based on climate). 25% chance of guessing too high. 25% chance of too low. And a 50% chance of just right. Too low and the yield and protein are too low. Too high and there isn’t enough water to provide enough increased yields. But protein still increases. Just right and you’re in the money. Too high with wheat and you’re still in the money because of protein. Since meteorology can only accurately predict the weather for five days in advance, I know it’s complete nonsense that it can predict 100 years in the future. Climate model failure confirms it.

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