As a low frequency and high-consequence situation, disaster preparedness proves very difficult to get people to be involved in - at both individual and community levels. The reasons for this are the mentality of “it won’t happen to me” and a sense that whatever happens will be taken care of by larger forces, such as government and emergency rescue personnel.


First Responders is a board game that seeks to open up a conversation about disasters, teaching individuals and communities disaster preparedness as well as collaboration and empathy, in the context of a safe and fun space.


The game is about a community hit by a hurricane, within the first 72 hours, when players can only rely on themselves and each other for support. With First Responders, we do not only initiate a conversation around disaster preparedness, we also provide people the tools and necessary self-reflection to become their own first responders. It gives the players a greater comprehension of possible scenarios of a disaster, and dilemmas emerging from these. The frame and gameplay teaches players empathy and collaboration in the face of difficult decisions, when collective and individual goals may come into conflict, as aiding other players is the only way to win the game.


First Responders opens up a conversation around a sensitive and emotionally fraught space, as well as reinforcing community and understanding of agency, through bringing people together and rewarding them for making a collective effort towards everyone’s well-being. In the context of this game, players learn how to talk about and approach this often terrifying and taboo topic.


Collaborators: Kelly Anderson, Stephanie Beattie, & Gertrud Hogh Rasmussen