G1) Serious gaming environment

Robert-Jan den Haan

"Developing a serious gaming environment as a facilitation tool in a learning environment where actors can collaboratively discuss, negotiate and test integral management strategies"

Practical motivation

Integrative and collaborative approaches in river basin management increase complexity, not just from a technical, but also from a management and governance point of view. Learning environments can help river basin management actors to deal with this complexity by exchanging their perspectives and deciding on collective action. In this project, we are developing a serious gaming environment – a learning environment that uses a serious game as a facilitation tool – where actors can collaboratively discuss, negotiate and test integral management strategies. A serious gaming environment offers actors simplified insight into a complex system. At the same time, a serious gaming environment offers actors a safe and level playing field to experiment with other actors and learn from each other.

Management phase: Evaluation & Adjustment |

Management goals: Maintenance Efficiency | Stakeholder participation |

Board game prototype of the serious game

Research aim

This project intends:

  • To develop a serious game that includes both the socio-political and the technical complexity
  • To facilitate a learning environment for river management actors to collaboratively discuss, negotiate and test management strategies.

Temporal scale: Project milestones |


  • Human-centered design approach, deploying methods such as interviews, co-design and participatory design
  • Iterative development of the serious gaming environment, deploying early prototyping and structured evaluation

Data-collection methods: Interviews |

Main progress and next steps

  • An interview study focused on determining the goal of the Virtual River based on the current challenges in Dutch river management. Thereby, the serious game focuses on the need of creating flexibility in a controlled river system and sustaining the integrated approach in the maintenance of floodplains.
  • Currently (January 2018), a cycle involving a first, playable prototype is completed. In this cycle, the Virtual River was developed as a board game to test and evaluate some main elements and game rules we intend to implement and refine in further prototypes. Testing these elements and rules in a board game early on enabled us to see whether these could work as intended and what the perceived complexity of players on these are.

Study areas

Key study areas: Ijssel river (The Netherlands) | Nederrijn-Lek river (The Netherlands) | Waal river (The Netherlands) |

Gelderse Poort area (the Netherlands)

Last modified: 01/07/2018

Main researcher

Robert-Jan den Haan

Supervisory team

prof. dr. Suzanne Hulscher


Prof. dr. ir. Mascha van der voort


Contributing organizations

University of Twente

Rijkswaterstaat Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management


ARCADIS Nederland BV

Witteveen+Bos Engineering and Consulting

Royal HaskoningDHV

Jump to publications list

Featured Outputs

Users’ perspectives about the potential usefulness of online storylines to communicate river research to a multi-disciplinary audience

14/08/2018 by Juliette Cortes Arevalo et al.

Contains: Journal publication

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Understanding actor perspectives regarding challenges for integrated river basin management

09/08/2018 by Robert-Jan den Haan et al.

Contains: Journal publication

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Other outputs


The interactive menu and the first RiverCare videos

23/02/2018 by Robert-Jan den Haan

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RiverCare meeting room


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Project group
Project G

Contact details

Robert-Jan den Haan

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