EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Companion modelling and participatory simulation: A glimpse

David Crookall1 and Nicolas Becu2
David Crookall and Nicolas Becu
  • 1Université Côte d'Azur, France (
  • 2LIttoral ENvironnement et Sociétés (LIENSs), La Rochelle, France (

Title:  Companion modelling and participatory simulation: A glimpse

David Crookall (1) and Nicolas Becu (2)

(1) Université Côte d’Azur, Nice, France; (2) LIttoral ENvironnement et Sociétés (LIENSs), La Rochelle, France.

Simulation/games are ‘usually’ used to communicate science, such as in educational, environment or government organizations.  Another developing use is to help organizations to solve problems or make decisions.  Two successful and related simulation/gaming approaches, called companion modelling (ComMod) and participatory simulation (PS), have been developed over the last two decades, and constitute fairly elaborate decision-making aides and problem-solving tools.

Both approaches involve the full collaboration of stakeholders in the evolving development of a model and a simulation, in participating and in debriefing.  The underlying aim is usually to explore the relations among stakeholders (society) and between them and their environment.  For example, they have been used to help two communities in conflict over natural resources, to give authorities and inhabitants the opportunity to discuss and decide about coastal erosion and habitats or to help local authorities explore alternative coastal flood prevention measures.

They have also been used to bring together a wide range of stakeholders from the same territory to discuss and analyse their varied visions, objectives and interactions.  Indeed, some forms of these tools can be used to help organizations, such local authorities and professional groups, to discuss ideas on possible futures, to explore scenarios for marine policy or for flood planning, to generate ideas for a new constitution or ministerial policy.

ComMod generally entails building a model of socio-ecological interactions (maybe computerized), which underlies participation in a large-scale role-play with stakeholders who have contributed to the design.  Often the design process takes several meetings (each of two to three days or more) over a period of several weeks or even months: this is both a strength and a weakness.  The model is usually developed with agent-based modelling (ABM) tools.  One such computer tool is ‘Common Pool Resources and Multi-Agent Systems’ (CORMAS), designed specifically as a support tool for ComMod; another is NetLogo.

PS overlaps to a large degree with, and is sometimes seen as an offshoot of, ComMod.  One main difference is that does not necessarily use ComMod (i.e., a model built with stakeholders and/or an ABM).  A PS in this sense tends to be easier to develop and implement because its design does not require as much toing and froing between stakeholders and facilitators.  A PS tends to capture emerging phenomena and trace developing relations in regard to social, industrial and territorial resources and demands on those resources; it can manifest a fairly powerful forecasting or future projection element.

Our session will provide a small glimpse of the rationale behind the two strands and illustrate several ways in which they have been used effectively.  We will also provide a resource list of references, associations and training opportunities.

How to cite: Crookall, D. and Becu, N.: Companion modelling and participatory simulation: A glimpse, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8968,, 2020


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