Parsons The New School of Design’s PETLab has teamed up with the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre to develop a set of games about disaster preparedness in the face of flooding, drought and other climate change related issues. The initiative, which we call "Games for Disaster Preparedness", are playful, often non-digital activities that actively engage participants in experiential learning, through the simulation of complex decisions with consequences. In other words: fun capacity building.

The audience for these games includes Red Cross staff and volunteers, climate scientists, politicians, and people around the world facing the increasingly catastrophic effects of climate change-related disasters. Both games can be played in "lo-fi" settings such as beaches and villages around the world where these disasters often cause extensive casualties and hardship. The goals for each game are to raise awareness about climate-related disasters, model and address possible actions and their outcomes, and ultimately lead to better decision–making in crisis situations.


There have been many talented people involved in this initiative, including:

Red Cross/ Red Crescent Climate Centre
Pablo Suarez, Project Director and Content Expert

Colleen Macklin, Project Director and Designer
Michie Pagulayan, Project Manager

Julynn Benedetti
Kurt Bieg
George Bixby
Mohini Freya Dutta
Mike Edwards
Ira Goldberg
Basak Haznedaroglu
Xi Lan
Kyle Yang Li
Claudio Lucio Midolo
Margaret Moser
Kelly Nichols
Eric Nunez
Maya Sariahmed
Alexander Stachalek
Minhao Yu
Xian Zhang


The games have been played at events, conferences and villages around the world, including:

Senegal (Saint Louis and Doun Baba Dieye), Dec 1-4 2009 - RC
Panama (Panama City), Jan 25-27 2010 - RC
El Salvador (San Salvador), Feb 18, 2010 - RC
Canada (Winnipeg), Jul 13-14, 2010 - International Institute for Environment and Development
Switzerland (Lugano), Aug 9-11, 2010 - University of Lugano
USA (Washington DC), Sep 16, 2010 - World Resources Institute
Panama (Panama City), Sep 27-30 2010 - RC
USA (New Haven CT), Oct 6, 2010 - Yale University
Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Oct 11-13, 2010 - RC (Contingency planning training)
Kenya (Nairobi), Oct 18, 2010 - RC
Switzerland (Lugano), Oct 20-22, 2010 - University of Lugano
Thailand (Bangkok), Nov 3-5, 2010 - RC (Danish RC delegates training)
Mexico (Guadalajara), Nov 4-5, 2010 - Universidad ITESO
USA (Ann Arbor, MI), Nov 8, 2010 - University of Michigan
USA (Atlanta, GA), Nov 18, 2010 - Emory University
Mexico (Cancun), Dec 1-9, 2010 - UNFCCC
USA (New York, NY), Jan 28, 2011 - Columbia U
Philippines (Manila), Feb 17, 2011 - RC (disaster risk reduction workshop)
Bangladesh (Dhaka), March 30, 2011 - Development and Climate Days

Thank you to the people of Doune Baba Dieye for graciously welcoming us to your home and playing our early versions of the games, and to all the intrepid members of The Red Cross/Red Crescent for bringing these games around the world.


To read more on the subject of games for disaster preparedness, see the following publications:

Suarez, P., Benn, J., Macklin, C., “Putting vulnerable people at the center of communication for adaptation: The case for knowledge sharing through participatory games and video tools” World Resources Report
Read report here

Suarez, P. and Macklin, C., (forthcoming) “Games to explore forecast-based decisions”. In: Hellmuth, M. et al. (eds) (2011). A Better Climate for Disaster Risk Management. Climate and Society No. 3. International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University, New York, USA

Humanitarian Futures, “A simple game to explain probability‐based decision and climate change” from An exchange between climate scientists and humanitarian and development policy makers. Summary of a workshop hosted by the Humanitarian Futures Programme, King’s College London, 30 March 2010
Download summary here

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