A new high-tech effort to save the Chesapeake Bay brought Philippe Cousteau, the grandson of famous French Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, to Charlottesville Thursday.
Philippe Cousteau was at the University of Virginia to show off the Chesapeake Bay Game. It is an interactive game that simulates decisions that directly impact the bay in an effort to preserve it.
Every player has a role in the Chesapeake Bay game; University of Virginia third-year student Avery Paxton is a farmer.
"The measures that I take for farming can either increase or decrease the nitrogen or phosphorous that are going into the bay watershed and eventually creating anoxic regions," he said.
Others play the role of fishermen, developers, and policy makers in the game. It uses real scientific data to simulate how their behaviors and decisions impact the health of the bay. Cousteau says that health is in a state of steady decline.
"The idea is really to pioneer how we can leverage technology, and the fun of playing a video game, base it off of real information, and allow people to solve the problems we're facing," Cousteau explained.
Players can test out different theories and behaviors. UVA's Vice President for Research Thomas Skalak says the game allows players to put information together so Congress and the public all learn how their actions affect the bay.
"It's impossible to do that without getting all that knowledge integrated in one place and we thought the bay game was the place to do that," he said.
"If I do this, what's gonna happen to the bay?" asked Cousteau. "What's gonna happen to the watermen, what's gonna happen to the farmers and the developers and all the stakeholders in the community economically, socially, and environmentally?"
A little disclaimer: as interactive as the game is, it is not quite an X-Box. The students we talked to say it is different from the standard computer or video game because it is very scientific, and the decisions could actually impact on the health of the bay.