Managing household socio-hydrological risk in Mexico city: A game to communicate and validate computational modeling with stakeholders

Rebecca E. Shelton, Andres Baeza-Castro, Marcus Janssen, Hallie Eakin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Residents of Mexico City experience major hydrological risks, including flooding events and insufficient potable water access for many households. A participatory modeling project, MEGADAPT, examines hydrological risk as co-constructed by both biophysical and social factors and aims to explore alternative scenarios of governance. Within the model, neighborhoods are represented as agents that take actions to reduce their sensitivity to exposure and risk. These risk management actions (to protect their households against flooding and scarcity) are based upon insights derived from focus group discussions within various neighborhoods. We developed a role-playing game based on the model's rules in order to validate the assumptions we made about residents’ decision-making given that we had translated qualitative information from focus group sessions into a quantitative model algorithm. This enables us to qualitatively validate the perspective and experience of residents in an agent-based model mid-way through the modeling process. Within the context of described hydrological events and the causes of these events, residents took on the role of themselves in the game and were asked to make decisions about how to protect their households against scarcity and flooding. After the game, we facilitated a discussion with residents about whether or not the game was realistic and how it could be improved. The game helped to validate our assumptions, validate the model with community members, and reinforced our connection with the community. We then discuss the potential further development of the game as a learning and communication tool.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)200-208
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Mexico
  • Model validation
  • Multi-stakeholder modeling
  • Role-play games
  • Water resources management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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