Maritime Spatial Planning Challenge simulation platform

Duration: 2015 –

Coordinator: Dr. Igor Mayer

Concept: Xander Keyser, Lodewijk Abspoel


Project summary

MSP Challenge is a multi-dimensional, multi-player computer supported serious game for and about marine spatial planning. The game is developed and owned by the Netherlands ministry of Infrastructure and Environment and Breda University of Applied Sciences, Academy for Digital Entertainment. The MSP software has been redesigned throughout 2016-2017, and as part of this redesign, EII implemented a linkage to Ecopath with Ecosim to compute ecological impacts of marine planning decisions during game play.

At the time of writing (2020), three MSP sessions are available featuring EwE models for the North Sea, the Baltic, and the Celtic Sea. These models are adjusted for MSP game play by Ecopath Research and Development Consortium partners. The MSP software and underlying EwE engine are fully data-driven, which creates the possibility to create MSP games for any region in the world. We are very excited about these new capabilities!

MSP sessions for Chinese waters and the Adriatic are in progress.

EII involvement

Model inter-connectivity, EwE programming, case study support, scientific support

Relevant publications


Steenbeek, J; Romagnoni, G; Bentley, J; Heymans, J J; Serpetti, N; Gonçalves, M; Santos, C; Warmelink, H; Mayer, I; Keijser, X; Fairgrieve, R; Abspoel, L

Combining ecosystem modeling with serious gaming in support of transboundary maritime spatial planning Journal Article

Ecology and Society, 25 (2), 2020, ISSN: 1708-3087, (Publisher: The Resilience Alliance).

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Santos, C; Warmelink, H; Boode, W; de Groot, P; Hutchinson, K; Gonçalves, M; Steenbeek, J; Mayer, I

A Digital Game-Based Simulation Platform for Integrated Marine Spatial Planning: Design Challenges and Technical Innovations Journal Article

The Journal of Ocean Technology, 15 (2), pp. 78–100, 2020, (Library Catalog:

Abstract | Links | BibTeX


Gonçalves, M; Steenbeek, J; Tomczak, M; Romagnoni, G; Puntilla, R; Karvinen, V; Santos, C; Keijser, X; Abspoel, L; Warmelink, H

Food-web modeling in the Maritime Spatial Planning Challenge Simulation Platform: Results from the Baltic Sea Region Inproceedings

50th Anniversary ISAGA Conference, 2019.



Steenbeek, J

EwE​ ​model​ ​guidelines​ ​for​ ​MSP​ ​game play Technical Report

Ecopath International Initiative Barcelona, 2018, (Type: Journal contribution).

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Steenbeek, J

MSP Challenge 2050 food web review Technical Report

figshare 2018.

Links | BibTeX

Steenbeek, J

Integrating Ecopath with Ecosim into the MSP software - conceptual design Technical Report

Ecopath International Initiative Barcelona, (2.5), 2018, (Type: Journal contribution).

Abstract | Links | BibTeX