People have a hard time wrapping their heads around climate change, but luckily there is a new open-source game by the Urban Sustainability Directors Network that helps to show the issues and decisions to be faced. Whether a community is looking at flooding or extreme temperatures, this role play game helps to show what preparation or remediation is needed. It's like a city planning tool only fun, and you can download it here--just scroll down for the Climate Training Tool Kit!
I had a chance to play the game at a Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission event, and since I'm in Philadelphia, the game was called Game of Floods. I was given the role of Director of Public Works for my group, and it was certainly challenging to see through the eyes of local government. Some of the other roles include Homeowners Association President, Mayor and even Mangrove Forest Advocate. Each group was given a scenario with expected sea level change and budget. Some groups had a lot more money to spend than others, which really added interest. Flood lines on the game board made it easy to assess the potential damage. Some of the major issues for our group included dealing with a power station, school, hospital generator (in basement), ferry port, major road and bridge.
Both the game board and the issues really reminded me of the Gulf, and I felt well prepared since I had been part of the discussions at the Barnraising in New Orleans. My team collaborated well and was able to make decisions quickly, landing us first to finish. There were some interesting gender issues in another group, and the leader of the event was able to give a "You are being transferred" card to change the situation. I should mention that some groups also received random cards that would suddenly increase or decrease their budget, which made it more like real life.
Not only was the game fun to play, but it certainly offers education on devices like dikes and seawalls, as well as the associated costs with construction and remediation. The game is easily customized to allow for high temperature/dry climates and other specific scenarios. The shortest recommended game time is 3 hrs. (which is what our group completed), although you can opt for a longer play. Apparently the game has shown success with students in middle schools and up, so it really is just a matter of having the right time slot like an after-school or camp program. Personally I'm hoping we might get this going one evening at a Barnraising. If you end up playing the game, definitely post your results!