How can serious gaming raise awareness for climate adaptation?

The pilot of the city of Zwolle aims to raise awareness and inspire climate adaptive community building by residents through serious gaming. Currently two serious games are developed, the first is a mobile escape room, the second is the design of a SIM Zwolle game.

Climate Escape Room
Residents in two neighbourhoods are invited to enter a mobile Climate Escape Room ’Adapt or BTrapped’. Here they step into a future (2050), which is impacted by climate change. Players can escape the room by solving puzzles with climate change adaptation as the solution. After the escape the residents are invited to join a city dialogue in the form of a street challenge. The goal is to develop a plan to transform their own neighbourhood into a green sponge. The best plan wins resources to help execute the plan. The ultimate goal however is community building to develop the water sensitive city. Therefore, the pilot focuses on the lessons learned in order to apply them to Zwolle’s climate adaptation strategy. The project is co-financed by NSR.

Click on the picture to start a film showing how the prototype of the Climate Escape Room is being tested.


Click on the picture to start a film showing how the prototype of the Climate Escape Room is being tested.



(In the photo collage the student team is discussing how to house the climate escape room. In the middle row to the right is product owner Annemiek Wiegman, from the municipality of Zwolle and member of the CATCH team. In the bottom picture left is CATCH project manager Renate Postma also from the municipality and on her right Bertrand Wegenaar from 038Games.)

Community building for a water sensitive city
Zwolle is currently developing a long-term climate adaptation strategy on city level. A strategy that integrates measures at all levels (from rivers to rain barrels). Zwolle sees community building as one of the measures and an important one for becoming a water sensitive city. Zwolle’s CATCH team therefore expects that the outcome of the pilot and the lessons learned will help finalize the city’s climate adaptation strategy and result in its successful execution. Moreover, the pilot’s outcome will provide valuable input for the Catch dashboard (Decision Support Tool).

SIM Zwolle

In addition to the escape room, a design is being made within CATCH for a "SIM-Zwolle" serious game. The ambition is to simulate extreme weather events such as heavy rain, prolonged heat and drought in the digital twin city - the virtual twin city of Zwolle in which all data from the municipal systems are integrated. These extreme weather events form the setting of a serious game that is also meant to be played by residents.


Game mission
When residents play the game, they are triggered to solve all kinds of problems around the extreme weather conditions in their street, just like in the escape room. The mission in the game is to maximize the sponge effect of their habitat - their home, garden, street and neighbourhood. By sponging up their neighbourhood, residents also ensure that sufficient water and cooling options become available in times of heat and drought. As a resident, you thereby depend on your neighbours. To score high in the game you have to work together with others in the street and neighbourhood. The design for this serious game is now being developed within the CATCH project as well.

Citizen Science
A special aspect of SIM Zwolle is that the design includes how the input of residents during the game can "feed" the digital twin city with relevant data. Can we design the game in such a way that residents measure and enter their own data in the virtual city? That can be anything, nitrogen in the air, height of thresholds and ridge heights of roofs, the amount of water in cellars and on the street, etc. With this form of Citizen Science, a more complete picture of Zwolle can be created so that more effective policy can be developed. This serious game can therefore be very relevant for the future, also for other municipalities and governments.

Inspiring example
Where the Catch Interreg pilots of other cities in the North Sea region are working on measures in the public space, the city of Zwolle chooses to test innovative measures, such as community building through serious gaming. That is why the pilot started with developing a community building strategy. The perspective of community building as an important steppingstone towards building a water sensitive city is highly relevant to all (midsize) cities, as community building is part of all pilots in the CATCH project. Therefore, the Zwolle pilot aims to be an inspiring example for all the partners in the CATCH project.



Collaboration with Climate Campus
The development of the Climate Escape Room Adapt or BTrapped is supported by Climate Campus, a network of governmental organisations, education and research institutes, entrepreneurs and social organisations. The partners in the network collaborate in innovative ways to develop a water sensitive region. This is the delta of the rivers IJssel and Vecht, an area that comprises almost all water challenges of the Netherlands as a whole. Through innovative collaboration Climate Campus aims to accelerate climate adaptation and simultaneously further other social issues and stimulate new economy as well.

Partners add value
Within the Climate Campus network, the Climate Escape Room Adapt or BTrapped is developed by a team of students from 038Games, a spinoff from Windesheim University, partner in the Climate Campus network. Another important Climate Campus partner in the project is water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta. In this organisation a group of trainees developed the first concept of the mobile climate escape room. The subsequent collaboration within Climate Campus now adds value to the CATCH Interreg NSR pilot.


The escape room is ready for its first players in March 2020. Currently an action plan is being developed to figure out exactly how residents in two neighbourhoods will participate. Free publicity and social media will be put in place to provide ample media attention to attract the attention of the wider public in Zwolle. Also, the design of SIM Zwolle will be ready before summer 2020.



(The picture shows several of the students in the team, developing the Climate Escape Room, Adapt or BTrapped. Annemiek Wiegman and Anne Vrouwe from the municipality of Zwolle guide the student team and are members of the pilot project team.)


If you wish to learn more about the community building project in Zwolle, please contact us. You can also visit the pilot project webpage (in Dutch) on the website of the municipality of Zwolle.