A Day in ARCHtopia: Gamifying Tools for Resilience

5 November 2021

A Day in ARCHtopia: Gamifying Tools for Resilience

How does one gamify resilience strategies? This October at the European Urban Resilience Forum, ARCH held an exciting, game-based workshop to introduce two tools, the ARCH Resilience Assessment Dashboard (RAD) and the Resilience Measures Inventory (RMI). This was the first opportunity ARCH has had in quite some time to present project-wide updates in person, meaning that it was the perfect chance to gamify some of the project’s innovative tools. The resulting game combined role playing and a fictional city setting called ARCHtopia to model how the two tools can help communities to assess and find appropriate approaches to boosting resilience in historic areas.

Assessing Resilience in ARCHtopia

The first part of the game mirrored how the ARCH Resilience Assessment Dashboard helps communities to gauge the resilience of their historic areas using a series of targeted questions. Participants were presented with a set of climate change-exacerbated risks in the historic areas of ARCHtopia, including flooding. Each player then used this information as they played an assigned role in ARCHtopia, whether that of a heritage conservation manager, a professor with experience in disaster risk management, or a local business owner with a storefront in the historic district (among others). These various (and sometimes conflicting) roles meant that all players had different values and priorities, as well as unique knowledge that they had to share with other participants -- which made the process of evaluating ARCHtopia’s level of resilience all the more realistic (and fun)!

The exercise demonstrated how the ARCH Resilience Assessment Dashboard helps users to perform resilience self-assessments for historic areas. In a real-world context, using the dashboard will be a guided process that leads users to further recommendations for the use of other ARCH tools and methods. 

Making an Action Plan for ARCHtopia

After players assessed how ARCHtopia had handled its resilience thus far, players were invited to fill any gaps they saw by negotiating a new Action Plan for the city. This part of the game was modeled on the Resilience Measures Inventory, which helps users to find appropriate measures to boost resilience. Players chose from a wide array of structural, institutional, and social measures. With possibilities that ranged from awareness-raising efforts to surface water storage, this part of the game led to a spirited debate among participants, and allowed them to get a feel for the types of information the Resilience Measures Inventory has to offer real communities.

The workshop demonstrated how these two tools complement each other, in that the ARCH Resilience Assessment Dashboard helps to identify potential gaps and areas for improvement, and the ARCH Resilience Measures Inventory helps to identify practical methods to make that improvement possible.