A team of European researchers, including members of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), has developed a role-playing game to help authorities plan their response to extreme weather events.
According to the FMI, a number of studies indicate that the number of extreme weather events are likely to increase in future. The ANYCaRE role-playing game provides authorities and experts from weather-sensitive sectors with the opportunity to practice decision-making in weather-related crisis situations.
“The game was designed on the basis of research findings and past weather events,” said Ilona Láng, a researcher from the FMI and one of the game’s developers.
Veera Parko, director of international affairs at Finland’s Ministry of the Interior, added, “The idea of the role-play exercise is to spur the players to think about the ways in which the various parties involved need to work together in an imaginary crisis combining extreme weather events, hazardous chemicals and hybrid threats.”
The players assume their own official roles when playing the game to help understand the impact of their decisions on the other players. The learning method, based on preparing for real-life situations through game practice, is known as serious gaming.
The ANYCaRE game was previously tested at three training exercises in Grenoble, France; Barcelona, Spain; and Mikkeli, Finland, in 2018. In these tabletop exercises, the players (including rescue workers, meteorologists and power plant employees) rehearsed the procedures required to tackle hazardous weather events.
The Mikkeli exercise was held in the local rescue department premises. Players practiced preparedness with the help of a simulation of the Asta storm that hit Finland in 2010.
“The players discovered how using various impact forecasting tools could simplify their work during a real-life storm,” explained Láng.
Role play also helped the players identify some of the uncertainties involved in decision-making and understand the challenges faced by other authorities in crisis situations.