‘RUFopoly’ – the game that conquers boundaries in the rural-urban fringe!The challenges to develop and protect the fuzzy and messy space called the rural-urban fringe can now beplayed out on an innovative new board game which researchers at Birmingham City University have developedas a decision-making tool for communities and professionals. Rather than see the countryside as a battlegroundRUFopoly allows players to see opportunities for improved management linking issues to do with planning andenvironment. The game was developed as part of a recent Relu funded interdisciplinary research project whichsought to address management issues concerning environmental change within the rural-urban fringe, and toinform future policy and practice across the UK.RUFopoly is an interactive game that enables players to journey through the fictitious county of RUFshire,which is under constant change from pressures for development and new opportunities generated by theregion‟s growing population and changing environmental governance.The purpose of the game is for players to answer questions relating to the themes of our project (Values,Connections, and Long Termism), as randomly determined by the throw of a dice. This journey of discoveryenables players to experience the issues facing the Rural-Urban Fringe. Players are supported by a facilitatorwho notes down answers and supporting justification given in discussions. This audit trail of decisions is thenused to allow each player to devise their own vision set within improved understanding of the impact of theirprevious decisions.
Alister Scott, Professor of Spatial Planning and Governance at Birmingham City University, and PrincipalInvestigator of the project explains: “In the real world policy makers and planners are facing massivechallenges in trying to accommodate the competing economic, community and environmental needs. The arenawhere this battle is most apparent is called the rural-urban fringe”.“The current planning debate in the national media over the future of our towns and countryside demands thatwe have an informed debate about the kind of society we want and this game provides one tool to help achievethis. In the current debate many public are excluded due to the complex language, acronyms and voluminousmaterial. Rufopoly helps the public engage using simple language across Spatial Planning and the EcosystemApproach in a fun way through dice and a hypothetical situation which creates an interesting dynamic whichforces people to think outside their usual areas”. Professor Scott added.RUFopoly was initially showcased at a major conference "Who Should Run the Countryside" in November2011 and quickly caught the attention of the national press, professional bodies, local authorities, communitygroups and schools. Since then it has made an appearance at the „Great Regional Debate‟ in Birmingham andhas also been played by representatives of theWelsh Assembly Government with plansbeing made to use itwithin their Natural Environment Framework exercise. The Mayor of Birmingham has also viewed the gameand is keen for the City Council cabinet to be involved. It is also being seen as an asset to help withneighborhood plans and the university are about to advertise a PhD in this area. There are also other events
planned using the RTPI and IEEM. RUFopoly is now being taken out to students, communities and agencies topromote a wider understanding of the rural urban fringe.Thefindings of the 20 month research project (Managing Environmental Change at the Rural-Urban Fringe)were presented to the public on 29th February 2012 alongside an opportunity to play RUFopoly. Following this,the team aim to develop the game on a commercial basis, with adaptations made for different landscapes,climates and cultures.Therefore in the future RUFopoly could be used to help engage the public andprofessionals in appreciating the power and limitations of proposals within a hypothetical space calledRUFshire.Contact:Professor Alister ScottAlister.Scott@bcu.ac.uk or Dr Rachel Curzon Rachel.email@example.comLink to project website: http://www.bcu.ac.uk/research/-centres-of-excellence/centre-for-environment-and-society/projects/reluFollow the travels & findings of ‘RUFopoly’ our interactive environmental decision-making game onTwitterhttps://twitter.com/#!/RUFopolyLearn about more about RUFopoly and see it in action onhttp://youtu.be/HaWkN2_6WUA