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Role-Playing Games for Opening the Black Box of Multi-Agent Systems: Method and Lessons of Its Application to Senegal River Valley Irrigated Systems

Olivier Barreteau, François Bousquet and Jean-Marie Attonaty
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 4 (2) 5

Abstract: Multi-agent systems and role playing games have both been developed separately and offer promising potential for synergetic joint use in the field of renewable resource management, for research, training and negotiation support. While multi-agent systems may give more control over the processes involved in role playing games, role playing games are good at explaining the content of multi-agent systems. The conversion of one tool to another is quite easy but organisation of game sessions is more difficult. Both these tools have been used jointly in a fully described experiment in the Senegal river valley for issues of co-ordination among farmers. Role-playing games first enabled us to work on the validation of the MAS. Subsequently, the combination of both tools has proved to be an effective discussion support tool.

The Creation of a Reputation in an Artificial Society Organised by a Gift System

Juliette Rouchier, Martin O'Connor and François Bousquet
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 4 (2) 8

Abstract: This paper describes simulations in an artificial society in which autonomous agents exchange gifts. In this society agents perform simple acts that are looked at by the others and are analysed so that a common image is created for each agent (a reputation). The model is based on numerous descriptions of non-merchant exchange systems, which are very interesting for ethnologists as well as for economists: they appear to be important for circulation of goods and to insure the reproduction of social links and values. In the system built the agents must make a gift at each time-step. There exist two kinds of gifts and two corresponding kinds of reputation: the agents either give to share or to be prestigious. Since gifts are received according to status, receiving a gift is as important for a reputation as making one. Each agent is characterised by its ''motivation'' to acquire the reputation of being a sharing agent or a prestigious agent. It is also characterised by its ''esteem'', to decide if it will be able to do the gift it wants to do for a time-step. These two characteristics of an agent can be stable during the simulation, but can also evolve according to its history. We study here the different patterns that can appear in the societies, in terms of generation of reputation, and of histories over time. A huge range of these patterns can be observed, depending on the choice made for the parameters. In some cases the agents cannot be individually distinguished, in other cases they can: but, in any case any individual behaviours that emerge have to be sustained by a collective specification that points out more or less the way agents value each reputation.

A Step-By-Step Approach to Building Land Management Scenarios Based on Multiple Viewpoints on Multi-Agent System Simulations

Michel Etienne, Christophe Le Page and Mathilde Cohen
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 6 (2) 2

Abstract: A multi-agent system was developed to simulate strategies of natural resource management in the Causse Méjan, a limestone plateau dominated by a rare grassland-dominated ecosystem endangered by pine invasion. To stimulate the emergence of alternative long-term management strategies for the sheep farms and the woodlands, contrasting dynamic viewpoints on land resources were designed at different space scales. To begin with, they were individually used to validate the model with each type of main stakeholders (foresters, farmers and the National Park of Cévennes rangers), to improve it and to propose individual scenarios of natural resource management. Once the model improved, the set of viewpoints made it possible to assess the impact of the individual scenarios on the main productive (sheep stocking rate, timber growth) and environmental (endangered species, landscape value) stakes on any spatial entity considered as relevant by any stakeholder. As the different opinions were collectively viewed and confronted, the need to agree to a compromise was highlighted and led to new scenarios based on more collective management of the pine woodlands. The results of these alternative scenarios were collectively evaluated anew and it was then possible to select a set of feasible scenarios stemming from current actors? perceptions and practices and to suggest alternative sylvopastoral management based on innovative practices. The paper underlines the usefulness of the representation of viewpoints in that it allowed for scenario description and impact assessment of the compared management strategies. It also shows how the step-by-step approach contributed to improve decision-making by National Park managers.

Report on the Multi-Agent Based Simulation (MABS) 2002 Workshop, Bologna, Italy, July 2002

François Bousquet, Ray Paul, Paul Davidsson and Jaime Simão Sichman
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 6 (2) 6

Abstract: Multi-Agent Based Simulation (MABS) workshop is a key event for the researchers working in the field of agent based simulations because it favours the encounter between researchers woking on applied social simulations who are interested on computer science aspects (architectures, platforms, methodologies) on the one hand, and computer scientists willing to understand how agent based models can be modelled from the observation of the real world.

Role-Playing Games, Models and Negotiation Processes

Olivier Barreteau, Christophe Le Page and Patrick D'aquino
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 6 (2) 10

Abstract: This special collection of papers on Role-Playing Games, Models and Negotiation Processes presents a selection of papers from two thematic sessions at the International Society for Ecological Economics conference held in Sousse, Tunisia, in February 2002. The aim of these thematic sessions was to share experiments involving negotiation using models and role-playing games (RPG), in order to review the range of these experiments and the methodological difficulties encountered.

Using Self-Designed Role-Playing Games and a Multi-Agent System to Empower a Local Decision-Making Process for Land Use Management: the SelfCormas Experiment in Senegal

Patrick D'aquino, Christophe Le Page, François Bousquet and Alassane Bah
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 6 (3) 5

Abstract: As agricultural and environmental issues are more and more inter-linked, the increasing multiplicity of stakeholders, with differing and often conflicting land use representations and strategies, underlines the need for innovative methods and tools to support their coordination, mediation and negotiation processes aiming at an improved, more decentralized and integrated natural resources management. But how can technology fit best with such a novel means of support? Even the present participatory modeling method is not really designed to avoid this technocratic drift and encourage the empowerment of stakeholders in the land use planning process. In fact, to truly integrate people and principals in the decision-making process of land use management and planning, information technology should not only support a mere access to information but also help people to participate fully in its design, process and usage. That means allow people to use the modeling support not to provide solutions, but to help people to steer their course within an incremental, iterative, and shared decision-making process. To this end, since 1997 we have experimented at an operational level (2500 km_) in the Senegal River valley a Self-Design Method that places modeling tools at stakeholders? and principals' disposal, right from the initial stages. The experiment presented here links Multi-Agent Systems and Role-Playing Games within a self-design and use process. The main objective was to test direct modeling design of these tools by stakeholders, with as little prior design work by the modeler as possible. This "self-design" experiment was organized in the form of participatory workshops which has led on discussions, appraisals, and decisions about planning land use management, already applied two years after the first workshops.

The AtollGame Experience: from Knowledge Engineering to a Computer-Assisted Role Playing Game

Anne Dray, Pascal Perez, Natalie Jones, Christophe Le Page, Patrick D'aquino, Ian White and Titeem Auatabu
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 9 (1) 6

Abstract: This paper presents the methodology developed to collect, understand and merge viewpoints coming from different stakeholders in order to build a shared and formal representation of the studied system dealing with groundwater management in the low-lying atoll of Tarawa (Republic of Kiribati). The methodology relies on three successive stages. First, a Global Targeted Appraisal focuses on social group leaders in order to collect different standpoints and their articulated mental models. These collective models are partly validated through Individual Activities Surveys focusing on behavioural patterns of individual islanders. Then, these models are merged into a single conceptual one using qualitative analysis software. This conceptual model is further simplified in order to create a computer-assisted role-playing game.

Using Social Simulation to Explore the Dynamics at Stake in Participatory Research

Olivier Barreteau and Christophe Le Page
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 14 (4) 12

Abstract: This position paper contributes to the debate on perspectives for simulating the social processes of science through the specific angle of participatory research. This new way of producing science is still in its infancy and needs some step back and analysis, to understand what is taking place on the boundaries between academic, policy and lay worlds. We argue that social simulation of this practice of cooperation can help in understanding further this new way of doing science, building on existing experience in simulation of knowledge flows as well as pragmatic approaches in social sciences.

A Further Step Towards Participatory Modelling. Fostering Stakeholder Involvement in Designing Models by Using Executable UML

Pierre Bommel, Francisco Dieguez, Danilo Bartaburu, Emilio Duarte, Esteban Montes, Marcelo Pereira Machín, Jorge Corral, Carlos José Pereira de Lucena and Hermes Morales Grosskopf
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17 (1) 6

Abstract: This paper focuses on the collective design and immediate execution of an agent-based model (ABM) by dynamically interpreting the activity diagrams of agent behaviours. To reach this objective, we have implemented an ABM of livestock producers facing drought conditions in Uruguay. The first step consists in implementing a standard ABM with pasture growth, herd dynamics and simple agents roughly imitating farmers’ strategies. The second step is more participative since it consists in assessing the model with the real cattle farmers. As with most modelling processes, this evaluation phase requires feedback on model design. In order to make this assessment more lively and efficient, we have conceived a tool for drawing diagrams that can be immediately interpreted by the agents. Thanks to this new editor, the actors have quickly understood how the model worked and were able to criticize and modify it. Thus, this innovative modelling tool enables the involvement of stakeholders in co-designing ABM for participatory foresight studies. We hope it will facilitate the emergence of new and more efficient practices for farm management that can account for climate changes.

Coupling Environmental and Social Processes to Simulate the Emergence of a Savannah Landscape Mosaic Under Shifting Cultivation and Assess its Sustainability

Nicolas Becu, Christine Raimond, Eric Garine, Marc Deconchat and Kouami Kokou
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 17 (1) 1

Abstract: This paper presents an agent-based spatial simulation of shifting cultivation applied to savannah landscape in North-Cameroon (Duupa ethnic community). The model is based on empirical rules and was developed by a team who seek to create interdisciplinary dynamics by combining domain specific approaches to the same subject. The manner in which the model is described in this paper reflects the interdisciplinary processes that guided its development. It is made up of four domain-specific modules - demography, agriculture, savannah regrowth and social rules - which converge to form a fifth one, i.e., the evolution of the mosaic of cultivated fields. The focus is on how the spatial organization of landscapes results of environmental and social interactions. Two scenarios are presented in this paper. The first simulates the transformation of savannah woodland into a shifting cultivation savannah landscape. The second simulates changes in the landscape and socio-demographic structure of a Duupa village over a 60-year period. The simulation results are used to identify some of the key aspects of the socio-environmental interactions and help to explain why at large spatial scales and over a long period of time, the composition and structure of a landscape appear rather stable. For instance, it is well known that demography plays a key role in both social and environmental dynamics of shifting cultivation systems. Yet, in the case of the Duupa system, we show that social resilience can be acquired through interactions between demographic cycles of rising and falling population levels and a socioeconomic redistribution system. Finally, we compare the model developed with other shifting cultivation models and provide some insights on future developments.

Interactive Simulations with a Stylized Scale Model to Codesign with Villagers an Agent-Based Model of Bushmeat Hunting in the Periphery of Korup National Park (Cameroon)

Christophe Le Page, Kadiri Serge Bobo, Towa Olivier William Kamgaing, Bobo Fernanda Ngahane and Matthias Waltert
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 18 (1) 8

Abstract: An agent-based model (ABM) representing snare trapping of blue duikers (Cephalophus monticola) was co-designed and used with local populations to raise their awareness about the sustainability of bushmeat hunting activities in the region of the Korup National Park (South-West Cameroon). Village meetings based on interactive simulations with a stylized scale model were structured in three successive steps. During the first step, an abstract representation of a village surrounded by a portion of forest was co-designed by directly manipulating the computer interface displaying a spatial grid. Then, knowledge about the live-cycle traits and the behavior of blue duikers was shared through the demonstration of the individual-based population dynamics module of the ABM. The objective of the second step, introducing the hunting module of the ABM, was to elicit snare trapping practices trough interactive simulation and to calibrate the hunting module by setting a value for the probability of a blue duiker to be caught by a snare trap. In a third step, a more realistic version of the ABM was introduced. The seven villages included in the process were located in the GIS-based spatial representation, and the number of “Hunter” agents for each village in the ABM was set according to the results of a survey. The demonstration of this realistic version triggered discussion about possible management scenarios, whose results obtained with the finalized version of the ABM will be discussed during next round of village meetings. We present the pros and cons of the method consisting in using at an early stage of the process interactive simulations with stylized scale models to specify empirically-based agent-based models.

Different Modelling Purposes

Bruce Edmonds, Christophe Le Page, Mike Bithell, Edmund Chattoe-Brown, Volker Grimm, Ruth Meyer, Cristina Montañola-Sales, Paul Ormerod, Hilton Root and Flaminio Squazzoni
Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 22 (3) 6

Abstract: How one builds, checks, validates and interprets a model depends on its ‘purpose’. This is true even if the same model code is used for different purposes. This means that a model built for one purpose but then used for another needs to be re-justified for the new purpose and this will probably mean it also has to be re-checked, re-validated and maybe even re-built in a different way. Here we review some of the different purposes for a simulation model of complex social phenomena, focusing on seven in particular: prediction, explanation, description, theoretical exploration, illustration, analogy, and social interaction. The paper looks at some of the implications in terms of the ways in which the intended purpose might fail. This analysis motivates some of the ways in which these ‘dangers’ might be avoided or mitigated. It also looks at the ways that a confusion of modelling purposes can fatally weaken modelling projects, whilst giving a false sense of their quality. These distinctions clarify some previous debates as to the best modelling strategy (e.g. KISS and KIDS). The paper ends with a plea for modellers to be clear concerning which purpose they are justifying their model against.