Working with System Dynamics; Values, Loops and Arcs in Overgrowth 🌲🔥🌿🔥🌳


In the larger picture of our game, we aim to increase understanding and awareness about forest preservation, and how human actions (of different varieties) can affect the natural life cycles of the forest. We try to incorporate the various human influences through player actions (building houses from chopped trees, planting trees, fire prevention through brush removal) as well as external, game system actions (corporations that pollute the environment and affect the forest health). We set these actions with the game premise to call back to the values: the players are part of a pioneer city that is aiming to be at a sustainable relationship with the forest, growing their city through resources gained from the forest, while also preserving the forest’s health and preventing damaging wildfires.


Our core loop centers on the player-system cycles that progress the game. Each round consists of each player taking a turn, in which a player chooses to move up to 2 adjacent spaces, and then takes one of 4 actions: plant a sapling, chop a tree, protest a corporation, or build a house (using 3 chopped trees/lumber). After each player has a turn, it moves to the game system’s turn. 3 events happen for this: trackers for certain polluting corporations are moved, a random lighting strike (and potential wildfire) occurs, and saplings grow into trees. After this, the round ends, and the next round starts with the players again. This core loop repeats till the players reach the win condition or lose conditions.


The larger arcs of the game are when players progress towards the win or lose conditions. As a pioneer city, they are trying to ensure growth into a stable amount of population (represented by number of houses, scaled by number of players) while still maintaining the forest’s health (represented by the total minimum number of trees on the board, scaled by number of players). The story of their growth is countered by the development of certain corporations, who negatively affect the forest and the city’s development. Depending on the actions that players take to strategize and work together, they can tend towards a declining forest or a balanced forest.

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