Cultural memory game

Lukasz Jarzabek and Michalina Kulakowska (CRS)


Cultural Memory Game is a board game that uses the memory of past catastrophic events as an asset in increasing the disaster awareness and preparedness.

Short description of the tool

The game takes place nowadays, in a city that experienced a great disaster about 70-100 years ago. However, as there has been no major disaster since then, people feel safe and don’t see the need for implementing prevention and preparedness measures. The game verifies these assumptions, as players experience a great disaster of the scale comparable to the previous one. In this way, the game confronts players with the harsh reality of living in a disaster-prone area and encourages them to think how this situation affects their daily choices.

Players’ goal is to increase their households’ wellbeing level. The fastest way to do that is to spend their resources on consumption. Players can also learn about and invest in disaster prevention and preparedness measures. However, as this investment doesn’t have a direct impact on the wellbeing, the incentive to take up this kind of measures is not very strong. The trend may change if players decide to visit the local museum where the memories of the tragic past are available. At some point of the game, a disaster re-occurs. These players who took the warning seriously and protected their households will be able to minimize damage to their wellbeing. These unprepared, however, will lose everything.

EDUCEN application of the Cultural Memory Game:

The Cultural Memory Game was prepared in two versions based on EDUCEN case study cities: Volos, Greece and Dordrecht, Netherlands.

The Volos version confronts players with the earthquake of similar scale as the earthquakes that happened in the city in 1954-1957. The game content is based on the materials from the Museum of the City of Volos and the Greek Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization.

The Dordrecht version allows the players to experience the consequences of large flood similar to the one that happened in the city in 1953. The game was created in a cooperation with the City of Dordrecht.

Both versions of the game were played during the EDUCEN final conference in Dordrecht.

More elaborate description of the tool (how to use it)

The game should be adapted to the situation of specific cities by customizing the museum and civil protection contents.

There are two basic versions of the game available: earthquake version (based on the Volos situation) and flood version (based on the Dordrecht situation). Both versions reflect local contexts.

The basic versions of the game can be adapted to the needs of other cities. In order to do that, at least civil protection and museum content should be replaced with the local content. It is also recommended to play the game before starting the adaptation efforts.

The adaptation process should start with the civil protection part the game that informs the players about the correct prevention and preparedness measures. Local context should be taken into account when adapting the game. Good practice is to engage the local civil protection organization in the process of game adaptation (at least on the level of consultation).

The museum part takes these protection measures and uses the stories from the past disaster to present players with a message why prevention and preparedness need to always be taken into account when living in a disaster-prone area. It is important to find stories, photos, and other cultural memory artifacts that can be connected with the civil protection part. E.g., if the civil protection advice is to keep the buildings in a good state, the museum should have a photo or story of how the buildings that were in bad condition were destroyed during the earthquake. Such approach allows to provide players with a clear message why specific protection measures are necessary to ensure their safety.

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