LOOK: University of the Philippines’ Sakunwari board game teaches disaster resilience

University of the Philippines' Sakunwari board game
Sakunwari Resilience Board Game is calling for more playtesters as it hopes to integrate the game into formal teaching. UPRI video screengrab.

Take a look at the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI) Sakunwari board game that teaches the complexities of disaster risk management in a creative way.

The Sakunwari team is currently calling for more playtesters – adults and youth, families and organizations, and games enthusiasts who want to have fun while learning in a multi-lingual setting amidst Filipino designs.

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The Sakunwari tabletop game involves role-playing in times of disasters such as extreme weather changes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Sakunwari resilience board game features include:

  • Involves one region, six LGUs, and six mayors
  • The players of the game have to confront multiple complex disasters or cascading disasters that may come in the form of natural hazards, pandemic, climate change impacts, and human-induced crises like an armed take-over of a particular municipality or hostage-taking scenarios involving international personalities.
  • The game has four response options: tolerate, terminate, treat, and transfer
  • Offers three advice options: do nothing, do something, and do something extreme.
  • The game incorporates multi-sectoral advisers: economists, scientists, educators, media, and civil society, among others.
  • Finally, after three rounds, there is only one goal: survive and develop as a city.

The game’s name Sakunwari is a portmanteau of sakuna (disaster), kunwarÎ (pretense; simulation), and warÌ (sense-making; personal assessment), according to the UPRI briefing in February 2022.

The gamified teaching tool is one of the outputs of UPRI’s Woke4COVID Project, a project which aims to raise awareness, enhance disaster risk management, and help Filipinos arrive at informed and science-based decisions in dealing with COVID-19 and other disaster risks through the development of information, education, advocacy, and training materials in multiple media, and in different languages.

The Sakunwari resilience board game requires 4-6 players who act as chief executives in local governments. UPRI photo.

Award-winning UP Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (UP NOAH) chief and UPRI director Prof. Alfredo Mahar Lagmay said he believes in Sakunwari’s potential.

“Being a game that simulates the management of pandemic, hazards, and complex disasters, it is undeniably reflective of the current situation we have been facing these past two years. Disaster after disaster. All in the middle of a global health pandemic.

“Sakunwari is a game that simulates the experiences of an LGU as they work together to manage the impacts of hazards and pandemics, all while protecting their people and developing assets. As an advocate and educator, I truly believe that there is a vast potential for games and simulations like this,” Lagmay added.

Prof. Kristoffer B. Berse, PhD, UPRI Research and Creative Work director and Woke4COVID project leader further explained the intent of the game the UPRI team developed for public use.

“We want to be able to use it for capacity-building. We are looking at it as kind of a serious game that’s really fun and we hope that while the main target are adult learners, particularly the disaster risk management practitioners at the local government unit (LGU) level, we also designed it in a way that it can be enjoyed by younger players or even game enthusiasts, students who just want to have fun and learn at the same time,” Berse said.

These three “encapsulate what we want to achieve through this game. We wanted to immerse the players in a situation where they have to deal with disasters and they have to make their own assessment and be guided by different options, including advisory services from other stakeholders, to make proper decisions, to ensure that they will be able to protect the development gains of their cities,” Berse added.

“Our main point is that it’s not enough that we survive disasters. We should be able to continue to develop,” Berse affirmed.

Sakunwari offers three advice options in times of disaster: do nothing, do something, and do something extreme. UPRI photo

Call for Playtesters

The UP Resilience Institute is looking for interested individuals who would like to participate as PLAYTESTERS – or simply, players! – in the upcoming playtests of the Sakunwari Board Game. The playtesting sessions are to be held in the UP Resilience Institute office in UP Diliman.

If you are interested in trying out the game and playing it for yourself or with your colleagues/office, please answer this form and UPRI will get in touch with you to schedule the playtests on dates most convenient for you/your team.

CHECK OUT the Sakunwari video teaser here and the launch video here.

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Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.