Australia– It is the board game for everybody that is already proving a hit with families by the beach, but it is not a game about building an empire or defeating an enemy.
It is “The Fire Game”, a game that deals with matters of life and death, developed by the Surf Coast Shire, to educate people about the threats posed by bushfire and how to prepare.
It has been played enthusiastically by people of all ages at community workshops across the shire in recent weeks ahead of the fire season. And afterwards, people have asked if they can buy it.
Participants roll a dice and move around the board, landing on different types of questions as they go. The trail they move along is in the shape of a map of the shire, which is home to popular coastal towns including Lorne, Torquay, Airey’s Inlet and Anglesea.
If players land on the “During” a fire category they could be asked: “The fire will be here in less than an hour. Is it a GOOD or BAD idea to clean your gutters?”
The answer on the back of the card is forceful: “BAD! You should have prepared your house well before fire weather days. Getting on a roof in a panic is dangerous.”
Land on the General Knowledge category and its asks: “Along the Surf Coast a cool change typically brings winds from which direction?” The answer: “South west”.
Kate Sullivan, general manager environment and development for the council, said the game had been well received. “Everyone has loved it, they’ve just gone ‘this is fantastic, this is a really good way to learn about the issues with fire,” she said.
“It really forces people to think about ‘what have I actually learned about this?’ And there were so many people who said, ‘can we get a copy of this now?,” she said.
Rowan Mackenzie, manager environment and community safety for the council, said the game helped people build important connections. “It’s great for strangers to help each other out. You get people who don’t know each other and they’re helping each other with answers and they’re making commitments to one another about what they should and shouldn’t do. And I think that’s quite powerful,” he said.
The council has a limited number of copies of the game now, but is considering getting more produced. It wants to be able to make copies available to people who want to borrow it. It is not yet known if it will be available for sale. The council is taking steps to protect the intellectual property of the game.
The winner of the game is the first team/person who gets one answer correct from each of the four categories of questions. The categories relate to “Before” a fire, “During, “After” and “Fire Knowledge”.
The questions were developed by council staff with help from emergency services agencies, the environment department, Victorian Council of Churches and children from Anglesea Primary School.