Games to foster empathy

Raffaele Giordano and Alessandro Pagano (CNR-IRSA)

Run the game by yourself

A number of games were developed by the EDUCEN partners during the project. All of them - and also additional ones are available to download and play for free. Each game comes with a detailed instruction. Games are available in different languages.

Gifts of Culture

Gifts of Culture is a board game role-playing simulation of a culturally diverse community. Players become the representatives of various groups living in a flood-prone valley. Though they represent various views and ideals, they all have the same goal – for their group to have a better life. How will they achieve that with the constant threat of flood looming above their heads?

Each of the actions players can undertake has its advantages and disadvantages. Information sharing and collaboration can greatly improve their outcomes, however, diverse cultural backgrounds make it very difficult.

The Gift of Culture allows players to experience how cultural differences can lead to troubles but at the same time they can also be helpful. Play and use the “gift of culture” to improve community flood resilience.

The game was designed and developed within the EDUCEN project.

Why use this game

  • Players understand different ways how cultural factors affect disaster preparedness and ability to cope.
  • Players improve collaboration and information sharing skills, especially in regards of collaboration between organizations and individuals representing diverse cultural backgrounds leading to improved disaster resilience.
  • Players increase their understanding of disaster risk for heterogeneous cultural backgrounds.

To use this game download it from the website

Flood Resilience Game

The Flood Resilience Game is an educational game that allows players to experience, explore, and learn about the flood risk and resilience of communities in river valleys.

The game is designed to help participants – such as NGO staff working on flood-focused programs – to identify novel policies and strategies which improve flood resilience. The game is set in a community living in an area exposed to floods, occurring with different severity. Players take roles of members of different citizen groups (workers, farmers, entrepreneur, financial services agent), local government and water board officials.

The direct interactions between players create a rich experience that can be discussed, analysed and lead to concrete conclusions and actions. This allows players to explore vulnerabilities and capacities leading to an advanced understanding of interdependencies and the potential for working together. The game has been designed to align with the framework of the Zurich Flood Resilience Measurement tool (but also operates completely independently).

Why use this game

  • Players experience the effects on resilience of investments in different types of “capital” – such as financial, human, social, built, and natural.
  • Players have a better understanding of the influence of preparedness, response, reconstruction on flood resilience.
  • Players learn of the benefits of investment in risk reduction before the flood strikes.
  • Players explore the complex outcomes on the economy, society and the environment from long-term development pathways.
  • Players discover the types of decisions needed to avoid creating more flood risk in the future, incentivizing action before a flood through enhancing participatory decision-making.
  • Players experience all these complex ideas with a simple and concrete game elements so that participants can connect with their daily realities. To use this game download it from the website

About That Forest

About That Forest is a web-based role-playing simulation game that takes place in a forest and the community that lives in it. Participants take the role of people living in the forest. They try to achieve their goals, facing many challenges, interacting with the decisions made by other people living in the forest and an uncertain environment. The village where the community lives is located by the river that runs through the mountainside. Because of that, the village is exposed to floods that are caused by the rainfall. Forest has a capacity to absorb the rainfall. The bigger the forest is, the more rainfall it can absorb. Rainfall that is not absorbed by the forest gets to the river and causes floods. Floods cause financial losses for the community members. These losses are distributed unequally between the community members. Players don’t know how much money other community members have exactly, but they can see how wealthy the others are.

Why use this game:

  • Players learn practices that create a sustainable system in any environment, business or organisation.
  • Players practice strategic and leadership skills.
  • Players explore effectiveness and stability of policies for management of common goods.
  • Players understand how disasters factors into policies and management of the common goods.

To run this game register on the Games4Sustainability games platform and run your own session.

Learn how to use the games platform here.

Evacuation Challenge Game

The Evacuation Challenge Game presents challenges connected with disaster response and evacuation during the disaster (in this case – zombie apocalypse!) in diverse culturally and linguistically environment. Participants take on the roles of citizens and rescue team members, but unbeknownst to them, the road to the safety won’t be easy!

The game was designed and developed within the EDUCEN (European Disasters in Urban Centres: a Culture Expert Network) project within the EU Horizon 2020 Programme.

Why use this game:

  • Players understand problems connected with language barriers during risk situations.
  • Players understand problems encountered by people with disabilities.
  • Players learn about problems connected to evacuation in multicultural and multilinguistic environment.
  • Players realise importance of cooperation and communication.

To use this game download it from the website

What games should I use?

We prepared some questions that will help you to determine which game matches your needs best. It takes up to 10 minutes to find the game tailored to you.

Annotated list of games about culture and disasters

Overview of existing policy exercises/simulations and games that can be used to improve disaster preparedness and response actions

About That Forest

Description

About That Forest is a web-based role-playing simulation game that takes place in a small community that makes living from a forest. Players set their own goals and then try to achieve them. They face many challenges, including the uncertain environment and the consequences of the decisions made by other people.

Community lives by the river that runs through the mountainside. Because of that, it is exposed to floods that are caused by the rainfall. Forest has a capacity to absorb the rainfall. The bigger the forest is, the more rainfall it can absorb. Rainfall that is not absorbed by the forest gets to the river and causes floods. Floods cause financial losses for the community members. These losses are distributed unequally between the community members.

Players can vote for policies that are based on different solidarities proposed by the cultural theory (individualistic, hierarchical, egalitarian). They can also make up their own rules. The game allows to exercise cooperation and decision-making in disaster-prone environment when multiple worldviews are involved.

Target group

local communities, disaster managers, policy makers, NGOs

Benefits

  • Players learn about different types of behavior connected to the cultural theory in the context of natural disasters and depletion of natural resources.
  • Players learn practices that create a sustainable system in any environment, business or organisation.
  • Players experience complex organizational reality and organizational culture.
  • Players explore effectiveness and stability of policies for management of common goods.

Created by

Centre for Systems Solutions

Number of players

Best played with 10-30

Number of moderators

1

Duration

1-2 hours + 1 hour debriefing

How to obtain this game

To run this game register on the Games4Sustainability games platform and run your own session go here

Learn how to use the games platform here

The Climate and Gender game

Description

The Climate and Gender game supports learning and dialogue on the different vulnerabilities of women and men facing climate change and its results, including floods and droughts. With the added element of gender roles the game becomes an interesting starting point in a discussion on women’s place in a harsh world of constantly changing risk.

Target group

aid workers, NGOs, local administration, local communities

Benefits

  • Players discover how climate changes affect lives of farmers in Africa.
  • Players learn of role of gender in facing changing risk.
  • Players are encouraged to discuss different vulnerabilities of women and men facing natural disasters such as flood and droughts.

Created by

Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre

Number of players

10 – 40

Number of moderators

at least 1 (a support team of 1-3 facilitation assistants can be helpful for larger groups)

Duration

1-2 hours + 1 hour debriefing

How to obtain this game

To run/play this game download it from the game’s website.

Cultural Memory Game

Description

Cultural Memory Game confronts the players with the history of a city that experienced a serious disaster in the past. However, last decades were kind for the city and its people and nobody seems to take the risk seriously anymore. The game content can be adapted to the situation of different cities.

Target group

youth, museums, schools

Benefits

The game helps players understand the role of the memory of past disasters and recognize its signs. At the same time, players learn why being prepared is so important and where they can find information about that.

Created by

Centre for Systems Solutions - CRS

Number of players

8-32 (the more players, the bigger room is needed)

Number of moderators

1-2 (depending on the number of players)

Duration

60-90 minutes

How to obtain this game

culturalmemory.games4sustainability.org

Decisions for the Decade

Description

Decisions of the Decade is an interactive game that helps people to recognize that there are many uncertain aspects to the future of the climate, and therefore, risk management may require being prepared for surprises such as natural disasters. The game supports the education for community resilience and encourages the understanding between members of the community, aid workers and other stakeholders involved in disaster risk reduction in rural communities.

Target group

aid workers, local communities, ngos, public administration

Benefits

  • Players learn about different risks and climate change impacts.
  • Players learn to plan for extremes as an individuals and as a community.
  • Players experience the uncertainty and other challenges connected to the disaster risk reduction and disaster risk management

Created by

Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre

Number of players

8-40 people, in teams of 4

Number of moderators

at least 1 (a support team of 1-3 facilitation assistants can be helpful for larger groups)

Duration

30-60 minutes + debriefing

How to obtain this game

To run/play this game download it from the game’s website.

Evacuation Challenge Game

Description

The Evacuation Challenge Game presents challenges connected with disaster response and evacuation during the disaster (in this case – zombie apocalypse!) in diverse culturally and linguistically environment. Participants take on the roles of citizens and evacuation team members, but unbeknownst to them, the road to the safety won’t be easy!

Target group

aid workers, local communities, ngos, youth, disaster managers

Benefits

  • Players experience problems connected with language barriers during risk situations.
  • Players understand problems encountered by people with disabilities during disasters and risk situations.
  • Players learn about challenges of an evacuation in multicultural environment.
  • Players realise importance of preparedness training, and why the said training should be adapted with diverse community in mind.

Created by

Centre for Systems Solutions - CRS

Number of players

12 - 72

Number of moderators

at least 1

Duration

1-2 hours + 1 hour debriefing

How to obtain this game

To run this game download it from this page.

Extreme Event Game: Coastal City

Description

Extreme Event Game: Coastal City presents coastal city facing the category 5 hurricane. Players are set to deal with the issues and problems arising throughout the city and on the way learn about community resilience and key elements to overcoming chaos and increasing disaster management skills.

Target group

aid workers, local communities, ngos, public administration, youth

Benefits

  • Players learn how to use available resources, respond to extreme events and assess the impact of disaster.
  • Players experience the risk and learn to overcome problems as a community.
  • Players are encouraged to create the understanding between different stakeholders.
  • Players understand the key topics connected with the community resilience.

Created by

Koshland Science Museum

Number of players

12-48

Number of moderators

at least 1

Duration

1 hour + 1 hour debriefing

How to obtain this game

https://www.koshland-science-museum.org/explore-the-science/extreme-event/plan-your-game

Flood Resilience Game

Description

The Flood Resilience Game is an educational game that allows players to experience, explore, and learn about the flood risk and resilience of communities in river valleys.

The game is designed to help participants – such as NGO staff working on flood-focused programs – to identify novel policies and strategies which improve flood resilience.

The game is set in a community living in an area exposed to floods, occurring with different severity. Players take roles of members of different citizen groups (workers, farmers, entrepreneur, financial services agent), local government and water board officials.

The direct interactions between players create a rich experience that can be discussed, analysed and lead to concrete conclusions and actions. This allows players to explore vulnerabilities and capacities leading to an advanced understanding of interdependencies and the potential for working together.

The game has been designed to align with the framework of the Zurich Flood Resilience Measurement tool (but also operates completely independently).

Target group

flood professionals, local communities, ngos, policy makers, public administration

Benefits

  • Players experience the effects on resilience of investments in different types of “capital” – such as financial, human, social, built, and natural.
  • Players have a better understanding of the influence of preparedness, response, reconstruction on flood resilience.
  • Players learn of the benefits of investment in risk reduction before the flood strikes.
  • Players discover the types of decisions needed to avoid creating more flood risk in the future, incentivizing action before a flood through enhancing participatory decision-making.
  • Players experience complex organizational reality and organizational culture.

Created by

Centre for Systems Solutions - CRS

Number of players

8-16

Number of moderators

at least 1

Duration

1-2 hours + debriefing

How to obtain this game

To run/play this game download it from the game’s website.

Gifts of Culture

Description

Gifts of Culture is a board game role-playing simulation of a culturally diverse community. Players become the representatives of various groups living in the flood-prone valley. Though they represent various views and ideals, they all have the same goal – for their group to have a better life. How will they achieve that with the constant threat of flood looming above their heads? Each of the actions players can undertake has its advantages and disadvantages. Information sharing and collaboration can greatly improve their outcomes, however, diverse cultural backgrounds make it very difficult. The Gift of Culture allows players to experience how cultural differences can lead to troubles but at the same time they can also be helpful. Play and use the “gift of culture” to improve community flood resilience.

Target group

local communities, ngos, policy makers, public administration, youth

Benefits

  • Players understand different ways how cultural factors affect disaster preparedness and ability to cope
  • Players improve collaboration and information sharing skills, especially in regards of collaboration between organizations and individuals representing diverse cultural backgrounds leading to improved disaster resilience
  • Players increase their understanding of disaster risk for heterogeneous cultural backgrounds

Created by

Centre for Systems Solutions - CRS

Number of players

8-16

Number of moderators

1

Duration

1-2 hours + debriefing

How to obtain this game

giftsofculture.games4sustainability.org

Lords of the Valley

Description

The Lords of the Valley is a mobile game that takes place in the valley of the river exposed to unexpected droughts and floods. Participants take role of farmers-businessmen, water authorities, local authorities, bank and non-governmental organization. Players attempt to achieve their own goals, facing many challenges arising from the decisions of other players and the unpredictability of the environment.

The Lords of the Valley game is a laborator for practicing strategy, collaboration and leadership in a complex environment.

Target group

aid workers, local communities, ngos, public administration

Benefits

  • Players develop skills for effective communication and collaboration in contacts with stakeholders with different worldviews and goals.
  • Players diagnose various organizational problems.
  • Players experience complex organizational reality and organizational culture.

Created by

Centre for Systems Solutions - CRS

Number of players

12 - 36

Number of moderators

at least 1

Duration

3-4 hours + 1 hour debriefing

How to obtain this game

To run/play this game go to the game’s website and contact its creators.

Ready!

Description

Ready! is a game which introduces players to the topic of disaster preparedness and disaster risk reduction. It shows an innovative approach to focusing attention on those issues. The game is prepared to be set in a real-case scenarios.

Target group

Affected community members. The game can also be played with disaster managers, volunteers, branch officers etc.

Benefits

  • Players learn of the benefits of early warning and other aspects of the disaster preparedness.
  • Players experience planning for extremes as an individuals and as a community.
  • Players learn what type of preparations are necessary to withhold against different natural disasters.
  • Players learn more about topics connected with community resilience.

Created by

Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre, Parsons The New School for Design’s PETlab

Number of players

10 - 50 players, in teams of 5-10 players

Number of moderators

1-2

Duration

30 minutes + 1 hour debriefing

How to obtain this game

To run/play this game download it from the game’s website.

Stop Disasters

Description

This disaster simulation game, (from the United Nations (UN) and International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) enables players to experience 5 natural environmental hazards (wildfires, earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and hurricanes), by understanding their risks and applying effective methods of prevention and mitigation. The player’s role is to plan and construct a safer environment, assess the disaster risk for the environmental disaster hazards, while attempting to limit the damage when natural hazards strike. You are given advice along the way; some will be good, and other will be bad.

Target group

children, youth, NGO, local communities

Benefits

  • Players understand the risks that can be brought on by poor city management.
  • Players learn what type of preparations are necessary to withhold against different natural disasters.
  • Players learn more about topics connected with community resilience.

Created by

United Nations (UN), Inter­na­tional Strat­egy for Dis­as­ter Reduc­tion (ISDR), Playerthree

Number of players

1

Number of moderators

None

Duration

15-30 minutes (depending on difficulty level and chosen disaster) + 1 hour debriefing

How to obtain this game

To play the game go to the game’s website.