The game board

Two simple game boards (one for Limbukha and the other for Dompola) were drawn on a 0.5 m * 1 m poster paper representing the farmers in columns and their plots in rows (Fig. 3). On the game board, columns represented six farmers. For Limbukha, each column was divided into two subcolumns to represent potato (grown from March to June) and rice (grown from June to October). The game board for Dompola displayed just one column, implying that its farmers can grow only rice (June-October) and then fallow their fields (November-May).
Rows represent plots that ranged from 1 to 8 (depending on the category of the farmer). Each plot is equivalent to 0.1 ha of paddy field. Only one crop can be grown at a time. However, in the actual game, players proposed that Limbukha villagers could grow a crop of potato before any rice field. The year and cycle of the game (e.g., 4/2: implying year 4 and cycle 2) were indicated in the lower left corner of the board.

The playing cards

Six types of cards were used as a medium in the game:

  • Name tag.
  • Cash. Each player received initial cash to start farming at the following rates: Thruelpa = Nu. 20,000 (US$1 = Nu. 47.50), Chhep = Nu. 15,000, Chatho = Nu. 10,000, and Lhangchu = Nu. 5,000.
  • Rainfall. Two cards normal (N) and low (L) rainfall for each cycle were used as chance cards to determine the volume of water available for sharing. Depending on the rainfall pattern, the units of water received by each player were regulated to induce dynamism. Before each cropping cycle, the card was randomly drawn and declared.
  • Potato card. Limbukha farmers received yellow cards representing potato fields. One card was equivalent to 0.1 ha of potato grown before rice. Each player could use a maximum of three cards, and could also skip a season without growing potato.
  • Water cards. Pink and light blue cards were used to represent water. One pink card was used as the equivalent to the volume of enough water to transplant and irrigate 0.1 ha of rice. Pink cards represented water used in the first cycle (first week of June to October) and light blue cards represented water used in the second cycle (third week of June to October). This means that farmers could place only one water card in one plot to indicate that that plot has been planted to rice. This card could be sold, exchanged, or used for transaction among villagers in a community or between farmers of the two communities. The game facilitator issued water cards in correspondence to the rainfall type. In the normal-rainfall season, Thruelpa received 5 water cards, Chhep 3 cards, Chatho 2 cards, and Lhangchu 1 card. During the low-rainfall pattern, the water provision was reduced by one unit, that is, 1 card less for each category.
  • Market price. Two cards representing a high and low price were used to indicate potato and rice prices. One of these cards was drawn randomly and declared after each cycle.

The spreadsheet

A spreadsheet program (Microsoft Excel) was used to record all the data produced from the RPG and to run simulations. The data from the game board were transferred into a data-capturing spreadsheet in codes (1 = rice, 2 = potato, and 3 = fallow). The data were linked to a simulation spreadsheet on which gross margin is analyzed. This spreadsheet was used to calculate income from land-use decisions. Based on the simulated results, each player was paid an income at the end of each game. Other data such as water dynamics and land-use changes were analyzed after all the game sessions concluded. This actually facilitated the game session, thus enabling rapid calculations and inter-annual comparisons if required.