A few years ago, our gamerunner Jenny Gottstein produced a Zombie Apocalypse Disaster Preparedness game in San Francisco. She armed players with nerf guns and challenged them to run around the city completing missions they received on their smartphones. Some of the missions were ridiculous (zombie brain bashing target practice with... piñatas), but most were designed to foster basic disaster skills (learn how to bandage a burn wound, learn how to pack a survival kit, memorize emergency radio stations & plan evacuation routes). Meanwhile, there were actors dressed as zombies chasing the players around the city, and the game culminated in a Thriller dancemob at a local park.
In the past 3 years, she has produced over 300 games around the world with The Go Game. Ninjas battles, logic puzzles, and whipped cream relays? Check check check. She knows how to design games for leadership development, teambuilding, skill training, marketing and just pure ridiculous fun. But her passion? Empowering communities through play. Over the next few years, she is working to develop a new platform: Disaster Preparedness Gaming.
Why games? Because games connect people, games foster engagement and interaction. And studies have shown that building a strong social connection within your community can save lives.
Organizations like the CDC and FEMA have already tested the waters of innovative training strategies with online quizzes & graphic novels. But the problem is, these initiatives don't create muscle memory, they don't excite the imagination, and they don't bind people together.
But real-world adventure gaming gives individuals the chance to meet new people, learn new skills, and simulate positive outcomes. Will you remember emergency trivia from a quiz you took on a FEMA website? Maybe. Will you remember how it felt to assemble an emergency kit while being chased by zombies? No question.