Aftershosk: gaming for learning

What I like most in my DRMCCA programme is a genius combination of theory and practical aspects. Courses coordinators not only invite professional working in the field for different organizations, like UNFPA, UNHCR or WFP, but apply interesting learning methods, like board games. For example, last week during a class on Humanitarian Logistics we played the Board Game AFTERSHOCK.

AFTERSHOCK is a fast-paced (around 2 hours), very challenging game where players must cooperate to address a complex humanitarian crisis. The game is set in the fictional country of “Carana” that has suffered years of sometimes violent turmoil, and has only recently taken the first tentative steps to national reconciliation and reconstruction. The game starts with a powerful earthquake that strikes Carana’s capital, causing widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure. Tens of thousands of people are in need of urgent aid and medical attention.


We as students arranged teams of 6-8 students and according to the rules if the game had to negotiate, provided assistance needed and solve some issues, like social unrest or cholera, that were occurring simultaneously to humanitarian operations. Teams acted on behalf of the Government of Carana, the multinational Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Task Force (HADR-FT), additional contingents of UN and NGO personnel.

The game was loosely modeled on disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, that’s why it provides real problems and mechanisms to cooperate and establish mutually beneficial partnerships on the ground. During the game we experienced constraints, lack of resources and communication, tried risk management and maybe forecasting. All in all, that was a great experience and exciting hours with other ‘colleagues’.

I personally was a member of a NGO team together with another student, according to the rules of the game, we could make a move on the board when three other teams – the Government, HADR-FT and the UN – had made theirs. We were always the last one to act, and unfortunately, we couldn’t change a lot in the current situation… I hope that is not the case for real emergency situations.

  • Tatiana
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