Serious game helps Californians prep for wildfires

Residents are seated around tables in the Tomales town hall to play a game about wildfire evacuation.
Photo by Katherine Monahan/KQED

You get bonus points for owning an emergency radio or having a go bag on hand. Need to wrangle multiple stressed-out pets? Start off with a penalty.

So goes Tomales Resilience, an experimental board game that simulates a real-life wildfire evacuation in the census-designated area off State Route 1 in Marin County. Stemming from a 2019 CITRIS Seed Award to UC Davis design professor Thomas Maiorana and UC Berkeley civil engineer Kenichi Soga, the game builds off the success of a similar effort in nearby Bolinas.

“Games help people to think in more creative ways,” Maiorana said, “and yet have a visceral experience that’s a hint at what might happen in the real thing, but still simulating some of the stress and elements that would come up in this situation.”

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