Paying for Predictions
This participatory activity aims to support experiential learning and dialogue on the concept of climate-based disaster risk reduction, which is becoming more salient in the face of climate change. In this table game, players become Red Cross Red Crescent workers, who face changing risks. They must make individual and collective decisions, with consequences. Rich discussions emerge, and there will be winners and losers.
Why this game?
The humanitarian movement under-utilizes climate forecasts for a
number of reasons, some of which include:
- These forecasts are not always disseminated to the appropriate decision makers in the movement.
- Red Cross Red Crescent employees often do not understand the forecasts.
- If the forecasts are understood, employees are often unclear on what types of action could be taken in preparation for a potential disaster.
- Employees fear “acting in vain”, ie: taking disaster preparedness measures when a disaster does not manifest itself.
- Funding is often not available until after the disaster has already occurred.
- Playing this game is one step towards helping publicize the potential value of these forecasts, and helps break down some of these barriers to their effective use.
Facilitator skill level
4 out of 5
Disaster managers/ volunteers/ branch officers/meteorological service authorities, donors, etc.
Number of players
36 players; though this game can be played with 6-100 players, depending on skill of facilitator.
Time needed for gameplay/discussion
45-60 minutes (depending on experience of facilitator, group size, and desired level of discussion during gameplay)
Materials (36 players)
6-sided (normal) dice: 36 white, 12 coloured
8-sided dice: 12
Beans: at least 360
Red stones: around 20
Non-transparent cups: 12
Transparent cups: 6
Powerpoint - file: 1
Prizes: for winning player, and for winning team
Optional: PowerPoint projection, audio equipment for amplifying facilitator with large groups
Game Facilitator: 1
Game assistants: 3
Each player receives:
1 white die
Each team recieves:
1 coloured die
Play space requirements
A large room with tables and chairs—6 tables and 36 chairs, or one chair for each player depending on number of players, Players can sit six to a table, but the participants will sit in teams of 3.
How to win this game
To win the individual prize, be the player with the highest number of beans at the end of the Game. To win the group prize, be the team with the highest number of beans at the end of the game. In the event of a tie, the tied team with fewer red stones wins.
Players should expect to be confused, both by the rules and throughout gameplay. Like in the real world, in this game the relationship between decisions and consequences can be complex… Being confused is a natural condition (which should dissipate as gameplay evolves and people figure out the implications of the various rules).
The game is a simplified representation of reality. It is designed to amplify certain aspects that matter for the purpose of learning about resilience, while excluding other aspects of reality that, while relevant, would make the game too complicated.
Players join the game accepting the rules—no challenging of the rules during gameplay. Assert authority in the beginning: I am the supreme court of justice and will be in charge of resolving any situations, be somewhat bossy in anticipation of later in the game.
While consultation with team members is encouraged, each player’s decisions are individual (nobody can force someone else to act in a certain way). There will be some “practice” rounds, and then 10 rounds “for real” (with losers, winners, and prizes).
Players cannot share beans—in this players simply can’t give away beans (otherwise players tend to behave in unrealistically altruistic and cooperative ways).
Proceed to explain the rest of the game rules, following the sequence indicated in the PowerPoint slide. When explaining the game rules, ask participants to roll the die and see who got a flood, to make sure they understand the concept.
“Paying for Predictions” is a game deliberately designed with system flexibility, in order to enable people and organizations to explore possible modifications to game rules and narrative aimed at better capturing aspects of the relationships between context, decisions and consequences.
NOTE: The “disaster” in this game does not necessarily need to be a flood. You may replace all flood-related language with a location-appropriate disaster that is impacted by climate, ie: drought, cholera epidemic, etc.
- Play one practice round.
- Each team rolls the regional rains under the cup.
- Bidding winners will see the value through the transparent cup while others keep it under the cup.
- Players make decisions (give 1-2 minutes at the beginning for people to discuss individual and collective strategy).
- Countdown. By the end of the countdown, each player is either standing (an early action that expresses prepositioning relief items and costs one bean), or sitting (ie: doing nothing).
- Collection of upfront payment (1 bean) for those who took early action.
- Teams with no forecast now reveal their regional die. All players roll the second (local) die—see who has a flood.
- Game assistants take 4 beans from any player who had a flood but did not take early action. Those who run out of beans receive a red stone, symbol for a crisis.
- Throughout the round facilitator can share remarks about observed behaviour.
Next round begins.
After round 2, before round 3: Explain the DRR “twist”.
At start of round 7: Introduce new conditions affecting player decisions.
The game ends upon completion of the tenth round. A small prize is given to the player that ends with the most beans (individual winner: efficient use of resources allows to use the remaining budget for humanitarian expenses that would otherwise not happen). A bigger prize is given to the winning team, i.e. the region that collectively ends up with the most beans (this establishes a trade-off between collaboration and competition which enriches the discussion and adds to the emotional depth of the gameplay experience).
See Facilitator Guide for step-by-step facilitation guidance.
Paying For Predictions on Vimeo.
This game was developed with support from the American Red Cross (International Services Team), and from a research grant to the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre from the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN Action Lab Innovation Fund).