Game of Floods

Type of Game: 
Tabletop game (e.g., board game, card game, printouts)
Target Audience: 
Stakeholders
University and graduate students
Elementary and secondary school students
General public
Language: 
English

Proving that climate change education can be fun, the County of Marin (California, USA) has a boxed version of its award-winning Game of Floods, which teaches players about adaptation choices to for inevitable sea level rise.

The game, created by Community Development Agency (CDA) staff members and their water resources cohorts from the Department of Public Works, is designed to engage and educate the community about sea level rise vulnerability and adaptation. It allows players to design solutions that protect entire communities as well as individual properties to address the permanent flooding impacts of sea level rise. The challenge requires collective approaches to build solutions that protect access, airports, wastewater treatment facilities as well as smaller communities while dealing with uncertainty and balancing priorities among players.

Players work around the board collaboratively and discuss adaptation strategies considering their effectiveness, impacts and relative costs. New boxed game features include a fixed budget, news cards, special action cards, and social and environmental health indicators.

Additional information:

The "Game of Floods" was developed by the County of Marin as a public education activity on sea level rise adaptation, including traditional flood protection measures such as levees and seawalls; green infrastructure approaches including horizontal levees, wetland restorations, and beach nourishment; and policy/zoning changes. The Game of Floods is a small group activity, with 4-6 participants tasked with developing a vision for ‘Marin Island 2050,’ a hypothetical landscape that highlights the conditions that will be experienced in Marin in coming years with sea level rise and increased storm impacts causing the loss or deterioration of homes, community facilities, roads, agricultural land, beaches, wetlands, lagoons, and other resources.

To start the game, participants are given a lesson with an adaptation strategy reference sheet, including the effectiveness, environmental impacts/benefits, and cost estimates. Integral to the activity is the introduction and consideration of green infrastructure as an alternative to traditional levees and sea walls, with habitat and water quality benefits of such concepts articulated. Seated around the game board, participants take turns championing assets they value and proposing strategies to protect these sites from sea level rise and storm impacts. The game creates a lively interaction between participants, heightening awareness of the challenges of planning for sea level rise. The game concludes with group discussion to obtain consensus for a vision which protects critical assets, while maximizing ecosystems benefits through wetland restoration and other living shoreline approaches. 

The Game of Floods has been launched at public workshops, high schools, and community group meetings. Participants enthusiastically praise the game’s effectiveness at fostering collaborative dialogue and deeper understanding of the environmental, economic and social choices that communities will face in preparing for sea level rise. Because the game was designed to be general enough to represent any Bay Area community, CDA staff can provide the board and materials to any local jurisdiction, non-profit, or other group interested in hosting an event, or game night. 

Contact: marinslr [at] marincounty.org