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MSc Research Project: Boardgames as teaching tools for emergency services


As part of my MSc in crisis and disaster management at the University of Portsmouth, I’m looking into the potential of cooperative boardgames to be used as tools to train responders in non-technical skills related to interoperability. The training team at the Salisbury Fire Station have been very supportive of my work so far, and I have already collected some interesting data from my trial run with them.

For the purposes of my project I am looking at the following games:
The Lost Expedition (cooperative rules)
Flash Point: Fire Rescue (family rules + characters)
The Dead of Winter (secret objectives but no betrayer)

If you play these games I would greatly appreciate it if you could take the time to fill out my questionnaire:


Please feel free to get in touch if you would like more information on my project.

Thank you for your help!



I can’t get the link to work

It’s not a real link, but you can copy and paste it.

I don’t really see what “How satisfied are you with our services? *” is all about, though…

Apologies for that, I’ve tried to fix the link and have removed the placeholder question regarding services from the questionnaire. Thank you for pointing those out and taking the time to fill out the questionnaire!

I have a question: Do we have to have played all five of those games? I only played two of them.

You can fill out the survey for the ones you’ve played. I’m using Riskland as a control, and it is free to download from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction if you’re interested in giving it a go:


I’m working on the assumption that you want the most recent game play used as the one about which I’m answering questions - for example I’ve played Flash Point at all player counts from one to six.

I would point out – and you may already know this – that a board game which encourages a hierarchical social structure is generally regarded as an inferior game to one that doesn’t (see “alpha player problem”).

Hi, yes most recent play would probably be best. I was originally hoping to collect all my data from live play sessions assuming four players per game. Turns out that people working in the emergency services are quite busy so it’s hard to schedule this study in, and the data collected here should act as a baseline to see how their responses compare.

Thanks for the comment. Hierarchy is an interesting issue since as you point out a game designer’s priorities may be considerably different from the best way to run a team in a real life response. In a multi-agency response there may be people of equivalent rank from different services who have to make decisions together. One of the ways the fire and rescue service in the UK is trying to improve non-technical skills relating to joint decision making is to teach their incident commanders about transactional analysis/ego-states: http://changingminds.org/explanations/behaviors/ta.htm

@UP912712 Did you study Aftershock: A Humanitarian Crisis Game? https://paxsims.wordpress.com/aftershock/

Quote from the website stating they used Aftershock to train people

AFTERSHOCK has been used in university courses (McGill University, Texas State University), to train humanitarian personnel (Canadian Disaster and Humanitarian Response Training Program), for HADR training within the US military, and for pre-deployment training of peacekeepers and CIVPOL personnel (Centro Conjunto para Operaciones de Paz de Chile).

I have not played Aftershock myself.

Thanks for that, I haven’t had a chance to play it but keep hoping the exchange rate will swing in my favour before ordering a copy. It looks like an interesting game I’ve been in contact with Rex Brynen, and I’ve heard the setup is pretty simple which makes it good as a training tool.

Serious gaming is a lot more widespread than I had initially thought when starting this project, especially in relation to humanitarian and emergency applications. A lot of the work so far has focused on computer games though.

The University of Delft have their own games lab: https://seriousgaming.tudelft.nl/
The Humanitarian Leadership Academy also have an online course in gamification: https://kayaconnect.org/course/info.php?id=1105

Speaking of Delft it might be interesting to compare their shipping game Master Shipper to Container :thinking:


Thank you to everyone who have participated so far. I will be closing the survey this Friday, 9 August 2019.

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