Resilience Games

Communities face a host of unpredictable challenges — stronger storms and heavy rains, heat waves and droughts, invasive species and wildfires, epidemics and fires. Wouldn’t all this be less depressing if it involved games?

It takes true resilience to prepare and respond — the ability to work together, solve problems, and build back stronger than before. It takes action and collaboration in a number of diverse areas to build that resilience — emergency response, environmental protection, local government and utilities, community building and education. And yet hazard mitigation and emergency plans are often written in silos, by a few key experts.

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Resilience games, interactive assessments and collaborative workshops make these topics a whole lot more fun, engaging and accessible. A slew of interactive activities are out there today, all of which can help build connections among a broad range of stakeholders and community leaders, helping to build understanding of shared challenges and build momentum for shared solutions.


Check out some of our favorites and try using them in your community. Want to bring an event or customized version to your group or town? Get in touch - we’d love to help!


EXTREME EVENT  WAS Created by the Koshland Science Museum (now LabX)

EXTREME EVENT WAS Created by the Koshland Science Museum (now LabX)

The Extreme Event Game

Any closet dungeons & dragons fans out there? Participants of all ages love this immersive resilience game, where they take on a variety community roles, work together and find out what it takes to build true resilience and community in the face of disaster. This detailed game is ideal for 20-60 people, whether community members, planners or technical audiences. You can download a full set of game materials that simulate a city of about 200,000 people and include variations for floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, rent the materials, or hire a facilitator.

What We Love: You’re immersed in this award-winning game from the minute you walk in the door, and participants always have some big “aha moments” about the complex interactions between planning and response, and the importance of building community.

How We Adapt It: We work with many small towns and rural areas, with their own distinct needs and challenges. We’ve created an adaptation of this game that more accurately depicts communities with less than 50,000 (or 5,000!) people, and incorporates the real lessons we’ve learned from working on resilience projects with Vermont communities.


Resilience Bingo was created by community workshop LLc.  DOWNLOAD FOR FREE!

Resilience Bingo was created by community workshop LLc. DOWNLOAD FOR FREE!

If Extreme Event sounds pretty intense (it is!), Resilience Bingo is about as simple as it gets. This simple activity is a great ice breaker or intro game for any community meeting or workshop: just design and print your bingo cards, pass them out, and go! Instead of letters and numbers, these bingo cards include a variety of skills and resources needed for community resilience. Participants win by completing a row, and the whole community wins by learning more about their neighbors and needs. Download our free printable version here or design your own!

What We Love: This activity is incredibly simple to create, use and adapt for most any community or group. Even better, it helps people get to know each other and learn about community assets.

How We Adapt It: We tailor the cards to whichever town or group we’re working with — changing or adding squares that are important for that particular place. We try to offer a prize to up the ante — bonus points if it’s related to resilience (think first aid kit or seed packets). And we often use this activity to kick off a real asset mapping process — collect the cards at the end, and you have a head start on identifying local resources!


Community Resilience Assessment

This great tool isn’t quite a game, but it can be a fun and interactive (and serious!) way for community members to work together and understand how their community measures up in a range of resilience categories. The assessment includes four big categories and several dozen areas; participants evaluate where they are on a spectrum and give their community a score. Individuals can take the assessment as an online tool and save their results, or download a copy to use in a meeting or group setting. Communities can track their progress over time and see how they improve.

What We Love: This is a robust tool that allows communities to look comprehensively at their resilience actions, and understand a range of ways to improve on them. It’s simple scoring also makes it easy to hone in on areas of improvement, and it can be used in a variety of ways.

How We Adapt It: Most communities wouldn’t have a single person with all the knowledge needed to fill this out, so it works best when you bring together people with different roles in the community to complete it together. Bonus: that means they have to talk to each other! We like to run this activity as a larger event — either following the Extreme Event game, or in a workshop with keypad polling to prioritize areas for action.

we worked with Community resilience organizations to develop the tool and pioneer workshop methods. The assessment is  available for free.

we worked with Community resilience organizations to develop the tool and pioneer workshop methods. The assessment is available for free.


RAND CORPORATION DEVELOPED THE  HUNGRIER GAMES TOOLKIT , AVAILABLE FOR FREE ONLINE.

RAND CORPORATION DEVELOPED THE HUNGRIER GAMES TOOLKIT, AVAILABLE FOR FREE ONLINE.

Resilience is a tough concept for adults to understand, and it can be even trickier for kids. This toolkit from Rand is the full package: talking points and simple messages, activities that integrate with school curriculum, and a fun scavenger hunt game that empowers high schoolers to understand and identify ways to proactively build resilience.

What We Love: This is an approachable and adaptable game that brings resilience down to earth. It’s also a full kit, with carefully designed messages and instructions that make it easy to run.

How We Adapt It: Like most games, we change this one up to have specific details, challenges, talking points and clues that fit the particular group of kids or community we work with. And while this game is geared toward high schoolers, we find that younger kids are pretty great at building resilience too — we’ve adapted parts of this kit to work for middle schoolers or even mature elementary-aged kids.


Game of Floods was created by Marin COunty, CA.

Game of Floods was created by Marin COunty, CA.

Here’s another great role playing game, this time geared more toward professionals with a solid understanding of hazards and mitigation actions. You get the same collaborative decision-making fun of the Extreme Event Game, but with a more technical challenge based on sea level rise on the California coast. Players must argue for specific investments in hazard mitigation steps, based on a detailed understanding of flood projections and mitigation benefits. You can download the materials for free or pre-order a game set from Marin County.

What We Love: This game gives professionals real practice at understanding tradeoffs and making tough choices about where to invest and where to let things go. The mitigation actions are realistic, and the big picture questions are applicable to many communities.

How We Adapt It: The California model is applicable to many coastal communities, but not so much for inland areas or communities facing non-flood hazards. We’ve used the concepts of this game to create game boards with different maps and investments that work for rural mountain communities, smaller towns, or areas facing fire, wind, snow and ice, or other hazards.


Want more?

There are dozens of great games out there — we can’t stop at just 5. Here are links to additional games, activities and resources. Leave us a comment and tell us about others that you like and we’ll keep adding to the list!

  • Rand Corporation has developed a number of resilience toolkits with activities and messages, table top exercises and more.

  • Games4Sustainability includes a blog and Gamepedia platform with more than 100 simulations and games around climate and sustainability, including stories of how they are used.

  • Centre for Systems Solutions offers several simulations and multiplayer games for systemic challenges including energy transition, sustainability and more.

  • Climate Interactive has a great list of 19 games that could change the future, from computer games to apps to board games — including many familiar games that can be adapted for serious resilience education and planning.

Local Heroes Kit

Who are the local heroes in your community? The firefighters and schoolteachers, the people who quietly pick up trash and pull weeds, the movers and shakers, or the peacemakers? Whoever they are, there's power in recognizing them. Download our free Local Heroes kit with printable cards. Hang it up at an event or public space, and watch your community smile as you honor these special folks.


Everyone needs a little inspiration. There's no better way to learn about your great neighbors than to ask people to nominate their local heroes. That's why we created a FREE kit to help you shine a spotlight on people just being good to each other.

The Local Heroes kit sets you up with a simple way to discover and celebrate the good in your community. You set up a table on the street, at an event, or in your store, then ask passers-by to nominate their local hero. Make sure they explain why, and then hang up their nomination cards on the wall or on a clothesline.  

Simply download, print, and share the love. This FREE kit will help your neighbors smile, come together, and remember that we're all in this together.


LOCAL HERO KIT INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Download our Local Heroes card template.

    Print enough copies for your event, or to set up a good clothesline (20-50 is usually a good start). Colored paper makes them stand out!

  2. Find a spot.

    Find a place and time that will work well. You can just set it up and leave it there (we recommend hiding in the bushes to watch the fun!) or you can set it up at an event, which is a good way to get a lot of traffic. We love putting these up at community festivals, town meetings, or in the hallway of a library, town office or school. They are also great on downtown bulletin boards or empty storefront windows!

  3. Set up your Local Heroes line or wall.

    Clotheslines work well for trees or on a wall, but you can also use a bulletin board or just tape on a wall. Hang up some blank cards and leave out pens and markers. Fill out a couple to “seed” it and show people what to do!

  4. Snap a pic and share! #ourlocalheroes

    People will love seeing photos of the clothesline as it goes up, and of people taking comments.

  5. Keep on celebrating….

    If you set up at an event, you’ll likely need to take down your line at the end. But don’t throw it away! Many community organizations will find it inspiring and might want to take it over - ask your library, school, or fire department to start. If you can’t find a new home for it, you can still spread a lot of smiles by handout out the cards you collected to the people they honor. Stuff them in mailboxes, deliver them with a smile and thanks, or tape them onto front doors under cover of night!

Community Flash Mob Kit

You haven't lived until you've danced in the streets! At CW, we believe in the power of the arts to bring people together. We also believe that nothing beats a spontaneous dance party. So why not combine the two? Use our free Spotify playlist and organize your own... 


Flashmobs are spontaneous mass performances — dancing, music, theater, or any other creative spectacle. Why? Why not?Flashmobs are fun, surprising, interesting, thought-provoking, community-building wonders. They can be simple and just for fun, or can be carefully planned to educate, inform, or engage people in serious topics.

For the past few years we've organized community dance flash mobs for events, including this one at the Foodaroo food and music festival in Middlebury Vermont.

Ready to go? Use our Spotify playlist to get grooving!

Need some inspiration? Check out Flashmobs on YouTube for some great examples.


FLASH MOB INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Find your opportunity

    Picking a great time and place is half the battle. You want it to be public, at a time when a lot of people will be around — but don’t obstruct traffic or block sidewalks, and we don’t recommend interrupting important speeches or events. The less people expect something crazy, the funnier it will be.

  2. Tap your team.

    Decide whether you want this to be a hush-hush event, which will mean a smaller, invite-only flashmob, or whether you want to go big and spread the word. Either way, put out a call for dancers early on. You might need to do a little arm-twisting.

  3. Plan, share and practice.

    Choose a song and plan some choreographed dance moves — it helps to have a choreographer friend for this step! It’s up to you how choreographed and complicated you want to make it. Think about how skilled your dancers are and how much time you have to practice. Then share around the song and the steps, and get your team to practice on their own and/or in person. Make a clear plan for where you’re going to meet up, how you’re going to start, and what everyone should wear, bring or do. Pro tip: make a simple video to teach the moves if you can’t all get together.

  4. Bring it! #communityflashmob

    One the music starts, there’s no going back! Test out your sound equipment and set up ahead of time, and get the volume right. If you’re attempting something top secret, be sure you arrive in cognito and at different times. Don’t forget to plant someone in the crowd to capture it all on video and film! Post it up on social at the end and share it with the world.