IMPREXive game highlights importance of forecasting in flood management

Source(s): University of Reading

By Caroline Cross

How easy is it to predict a flood based on weather forecasts? Could your predictions save a city from flooding? Louise Arnal and Professor Hannah Cloke from the University’s Weather Research Division tell us about a new ‘serious game’, informed by their research, that gives the player control of flood forecasting as a city faces a deluge.

We recently released a serious game, in which players have to protect a city from flooding. Players of IMPREXive  are the incident commander for flood forecasts. Based on sometimes conflicting information from a team of forecasters and a group of decision makers, they have to determine how to react to different flood scenarios. Only solid analytic skills and smart decisions will see them keep their city safe.

Trust in decision-making

The decisions they make are not only based on science, and the player has to take into account the effect of their decisions on their popularity amongst the city’s population. A wrong decision will mean losing people’s trust and reducing the chance that they will evacuate the city when they actually need to.

We have been involved in the development of this game from its conception to its online development and release. The design of the game was born from and inspired by the work done by Water@Reading on the use of ensemble flood forecasts for decision-making (an ensemble describes forecasts which give a range of possible scenarios, instead of a single value).

The main purpose of the game is to give players first-hand experience of the challenges behind using ensemble flood forecasts for decision-making, in a fun setting.

More than a game

As a so-called ‘serious game’, the IMPREXive game is more than a fun pastime. It wants to draw attention to the role forecasts can play in managing the water-related threats we currently face as well as the ones we will be facing in a changing climate. That is why the game shows different ways of interpreting flood forecasts. It also spotlights how hard it can be to make decisions based on such forecasts. Players often find that landing a spot on the leader board is much harder than they had expected.

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