Zombie Attack! Role Playing an Extreme Disaster Scenario in a Museum

The Morrison County Historical Society and Cokato Museum & Akerlund Photography Studio joined forces to create “Zombie Attack!,” a role-playing game meant to help museum professionals work through disaster scenarios.

Staff of the two organizations presented “Zombie Attack!” at the Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museum’s (MALHM) conference in June 2014 and at the American Association for State & Local History’s (AASLH) annual conference in St. Paul, MN, in September 2014.

“Zombie Attack!” is played with 8 people at a table. It has five separate decks of cards with 8 cards in each deck. The game starts with an introduction from the presenters and a series of ice breakers to get people comfortable with each other. These ice breakers encourage them to share information about their museums and collections. Players than choose roles from the Role Cards. Once roles are selected, it’s time for players to work through the Scenario Cards. The game is wrapped up through a larger group discussion about what everyone learned. People are sent home with “1 Simple Action” cards that encourage them to take action on one disaster-planning task at their museums.

When we presented “Zombie Attack!” at MALHM, we were given feedback on how to improve the session. People told us we needed to define the zombies (Are they shamblers or runners?). They wanted to know whether they were related to anyone at their tables. For the purposes of the game, we told them their families were safe and they weren’t related to anyone at their tables. Given more time, we could have introduced the ethical dilemma of family or close relationships during a zombie attack. Finally, they wanted to know whether the scenarios were cumulative. Resoundingly, YES! In an extreme disaster, it’s difficult to resolve one issue completely before another one crops up, so you might have a group member turning into a zombie when a pipe bursts in the museum.

A number of people attending the “Zombie Attack!” sessions at the two conferences were interested in using the activity in their own organizations. We present the cards and documents we used below. The introduction was written by Mike Worcester of the Cokato Museum; the Zombie Attack Facts were compiled by Ann Marie Johnson of the Morrison County Historical Society; the other documents were created by Mary Warner of the Morrison County Historical Society.

The cards were printed on white card stock using a color photocopier. Two sets of cards, the Role and Scenario Cards, are two-sided. The 3 Skills, Precious, and 1 Simple Action cards are all one-sided, allowing for players to write on the blank side. Once the cards are printed, they need to be cut. A paper cutting board helps this process immensely.

If you have questions about presenting “Zombie Attack!,” send an email to contactstaff@morrisoncountyhistory.org or call 320-632-4007.

If you use “Zombie Attack!” for your organization, let us know how it  went by leaving a comment or sending us an email.

Zombie Attack Cards

Zombie Attack Intro

Zombie Attack Outline (used at AASLH conference)

Disaster Planning Resources (handout at AASLH conference)

Zombie Facts (handout at MALHM & AASLH conferences)

 

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