Any parent of tweens and teens knows it’s tough to talk with them about important issues. This makes one of the results of the Knight-funded real-world social game, Battlestorm, even more surprising. The game results showcase the power of youth as catalysts for conversations about hurricane preparedness among families, friends and communities along the Gulf Coast, which is still struggling to heal from past disasters.
A combination of dodgeball and freeze tag, Battlestorm was played by members of the Boys and Girls Clubs in communities throughout the region. The game used preparedness-related terms, symbols and game mechanics to promote the importance of hurricane preparedness through activities focused on youth as leaders. For example, in the course of the game, the “Town” team transports resources (balls) from one side of the court to the other while “The Storm” team plays and “shelter” power tokens offer players safe haven on the court from Hurricane players.
An evaluation of the game found that as a result of being involved with Battlestorm, players started conversations with parents and friends about hurricanes.
- 68% of Battlestorm players started/continued talking with parents about the topic vs. 38% in a control group.
- One third of Battelstorm players’ parents reported learning something new about hurricane preparedness from their teen.
- By the end of the game, 64% of Battlestorm players had spoken with friends about hurricanes, and 40% of players spoke with friends about the elements of a hurricane prep kit.
For example, on the way home from an after-school program, a girl from the East Biloxi Unit told her father that she was playing a game about hurricanes called “Battlestorm.” This reminded her father that the family’s flood insurance needed to be updated.