COBAgame Beta Testing

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Exciting news this week from Tilburg University, as the COBAgame is released for the beta testing. Students from French institute Ecole des mines d’Alés have been working on the game to add content and structure to the existing package.

The interns added documents and a spreadsheet to the package of materials, making the game configurable in several different ways. New materials include  profiles for collectives, like scout and church groups, as well as the individual descriptions familiar from the existing game.

The disaster scenario is one of severe flooding, where mudslides have caused extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure and the recovery phase is just beginning. Lists of needs such as food, shelter and construction supplies are allocated to each personal profile and a ‘gamemaster’ controls the matching of needs with the capacities of appropriate responders.

The COBACORE concept aims to harness the capabilities of ‘unbound volunteers’ – community members who are not connected to any organisation, but who help with recovery after a disaster. This spontaneous volunteering presents challenges with coordination, training and communication which the COBACORE platform and process has the potential to help.

Volunteers from the affected and responding community have the advantage of being on site and familiar with their surroundings which can speed up response and recovery times.

The COBAgame has the potential to be a valuable training tool for volunteers, civilian groups and professionals as well as an effective demonstration of best practice in a post-disaster scenario. The exercise demonstrates the challenges faced by responders in a real-life crisis situation and opens discussion among groups to assess the options and explore possible solutions.

Emergency services and governmental agencies in several European countries as well as some humanitarian organisations have expressed an interest in the game.

Members of the COBACORE consortium are sharing their insights with the developers about this version of the game and the improved final release is keenly anticipated.