Port of Mars

Port of Mars

How can we sustain healthy human communities in space?

We’re researching effective strategies for navigating dilemmas of shared resources, common good, and collective action under conditions of high uncertainty and high risk, like those in space, for instance. Players are citizens of an early Martian community charged with working together to provide for the sustained welfare of the settlement. All player actions are tracked and analyzed. We examine what behaviors tend to produce success, and what tends to produce failure. Each instance of gameplay is a simulation, a modeling exercise for future human space communities.

Key accomplishments

  • Created of a card-based Port of Mars game
  • Conducted a pilot study using the card game.
  • Developed a digital version of Port of Mars to improve data collection and increase sample sizes.
  • Launched a larger study with the digital game:The Mars Madness Tournament.
  • Look for a new commercial version of the original Port of Mars card game, available in time for the holidays!
  • Coming soon: A new round of the Mars Madness Tournament!
  • Coming soon: A solo version of Port of Mars.
  • Marco Janssen will be talking about the latest research findings of Port of Mars at the 2023 International Mars Society Convention on October 5 at ASU.

Project contact:

Lance Gharavi 

Funding years: 




Team members

Elizabeth Castillo

Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies

Project collaborator

Marco Janssen

ASU School of Sustainability

Lead Social Scientist

Tanya Harrison

Project collaborator


Robert Kirsch

ASU Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies

Political Science

Allen Lee

ASU Center for Behavior, Institutions, and the Environment

Lead Developer

Christine Nguyen

ASU Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative


Calvin Pritchard

ASU Center for Behavior, Institutions, and the Environment

Mai Trinh

ASU Leadership and Integrative Studies

Leadership, Management, Education

Patrick Young

ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration

Lead Space Scientist

Michael Yichao

Wizards of the Coast

Lead Game Designer
Narrative Design

Marty Anderies

Skaidra Smith-Heisters

Liz Leo

Titus Lunter

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