in Your Community
Battlestorm is a new game which combines elements of theatrical spectacle, reality game show, physical sport, and online games. It forms a dramatic public experience that gathers the community around storm preparedness.
Created by Area/Code for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, one of the main goals of Battlestorm is to make the game reproducible in communities around the country. The Knight Foundation commissioned Battlestorm as a model for future initiatives to promote hurricane preparedness among teens and their families.
The following documentation is designed to help anyone interested in creating Battlestorm in their community. It is divided into several sections: Overview, Basic Production Timeline, Elements of Battlestorm, Recommendations, and Legal.
Feel free to download a PDF of the entire Battlestorm in Your Community page for offline reference.
Battlestorm requires frequent supervised play sessions and adult facilitated discussions of hurricane preparedness. It is intended to be integrated into the curriculum of a school or after-school program which can provide oversight and access to a gymnasium over the course of 8 – 10 weeks.
Before the practice period begins, project leaders should allot at least 4 weeks to prepare equipment, establish a practice schedule, train staff, create an online community (website or Facebook page), and plan promotion of the final tournament.
Weeks 1 -4 (Preparation)
- Secure players, staffing and game practice venues – Five teams of 10+ players each will need to practice the game under an adult’s supervision at least once a week for 8 weeks. See “Basic Elements of Battlestorm” below for more information on staffing and venue requirements.
- Establish an 8-week game practice schedule for child players to practice at least weekly, leading up to the final tournament.
- Set a date and location for a final tournament – The tournament location should be large enough to accommodate the families and communities of the players.
- Secure a Hurricane team – The Hurricane team should be comprised of 12-20 adult players who will be available to learn the game, practice at least 4 times, and participate in the final tournament. They may also be needed to participate in promotional media.
- Distribute game equipment – See “Basic Elements of Battlestorm” below for more information on equipment.
- Determine team names and team logos
- Technical Preparation – Plan the game’s internet presence, which can include a custom website or simply a Facebook page (more information below). Platforms like Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube can be used for promotion.
- Determine an overall promotions plan and begin securing partnerships for media - How will people in the community find out about the game and be motivated to engage in the game system?
- Secure partnerships to help supply hurricane prep kit components to players and their families
- Distribute waivers and releases – Players’ guardians may be required to sign waivers covering the players’ participation in the game and in any promotional media. Staff and adult players may be required to sign waivers as well.
- Train staff to play/coach the game
- Establish strategic local partners both corporate and non-profit – Work to create hurricane prep kit drives and drive online kit submissions.
Week 5 (Launch)
- Launch the game’s online presence
- Begin Battlestorm practices
- Secure a production team (could be volunteer) for the final tournament
- Begin production of any uniforms for Town teams and the Hurricane
Weeks 6 – 13 (Practice and Tournament Prep)
- Hold practices 1 – 3 times weekly for each Town team
- Publish hurricane prep kit photos daily and update the team’s Power Levels
- Train the Hurricane team and provide equipment for practices
- Promote the final tournament
- Hold kit drives and promote online participation
End of Week 13
- Final Tournament – Work with a production team to prepare any signage, banners, programs, video projections, music, trophies, and documentation.
- Players & Staff
- Athletic Venues
- Game Rules and Equipment
- Hurricane Prep Kits
- Tournament Production
Players & Staff
The game requires a minimum of 50 players aged 12-18, divisible into five teams of at least 10 players each. The players must be available to practice the game at least weekly over 7-10 weeks and to participate in a final tournament. Players who will not participate in the final tournament can still participate in practices.
An adult team of 12-20 players (“The Hurricane”) should available to practice at least 4 times and to participate in a final tournament.
Each team needs one head coach to oversee practices and serve as a referee at the final tournament. The coach should be prepared to lead discussions of hurricane preparedness with the players.
The game is designed for play on a regulation sized basketball court, but it can be practiced on a half-sized court or even outdoors. Coaches can use their judgment to modify the size of the end zones and boundary lines to suit the venue.
The venue for the final tournament should have sufficient seating to accommodate the players’ families and the larger community.
The Battlestorm rules document describes the official equipment as well as inexpensive alternatives. The Mississippi Gulf Coast implementation of Battlestorm used the following equipment:
- Goals – Windsor Barrel Clear Canables (3 per team)
- Containers – Tandem Volleyball Colossal Carts (2 per team)
- Balls – 6” Gator Skin Softi Balls (30 blue, 30 orange, 10 yellow per team)
- Marking Tape for boundaries and goal designation
- Shelters – Champro Throwdown Base Set
The full game rules PDF is available here. The document should be distributed to coaches and to each adult player on the Hurricane team. The document includes recommendations for warm up exercises and information about hurricane preparedness.
The project should include an online presence which displays photos of hurricane prep kits received from the players, their families and communities. The site should also display the current “Power Level” of each team, as well as photos and information about the teams and the game.
Increasing Team Power Levels
As kits are submitted online, adjust the teams’ power levels accordingly. Because it is impossible to know how many kits will be submitted in total, there is not a standard rule about exactly how many kits it takes to increase a power level. Instead, use a flexible system described below to ensure that the teams attain sufficient power levels while always encouraging more submissions.
Depending on community participation, intermittently (might be every few weeks or days), update the power levels by following these steps:
- Tally up all the kits that have been submitted for each team (counting all kits, not just kits submitted that week).
- Determine how far through your submission timeframe you currently are. (i.e. Is it 10% of the way through the total period of time in which kits are accepted? 50%?)
- Adjust the power levels so that the team with the most submissions is on pace to reach level 9 at the conclusion of the submission timeframe. For example, if it’s 30% of the way through the submission timeframe, whichever team has the most submissions should have a power level of approximately 3.
- Use the relationship between the leading team’s submissions and power level to determine the levels of the other teams. If another team has submitted half as many kits as the leading team, they should have approximately half the power level. Never lower a team’s power level.
The primary goals when adjusting power levels are to ensure that the teams that get a lot of submissions see an increase in their power level; the most successful team ends up somewhere near level 9 by the final event; and that not all teams end up at level 9.
Ideally, the online presence will allow visitors to upload their photos directly to the site, where project leaders review them before publishing them to the live site. A WordPress site is sufficient but requires a few weeks of time from a professional website design and developer.
A simpler implementation would be to create a Facebook page instead of a full website. Participants could be directed to upload their photos to an album on the Facebook page and create a photo caption naming the team they wish to support. Project leaders could then review these submissions and post to the page’s Wall daily with the current Power Levels of each team.
While developing the game’s web presence, keep in mind how important it is to celebrate participating players and partners. Remember, this game is about the community, which really means it’s about the people in the community.
Hurricane Prep Kits
Prep kits are at the heart of the game. Work with players and families to encourage the creation of kits. Establish partnerships with local businesses which can supply kit components for project leaders to distribute to families.
- Referees – The tournament should have 4 referees on the court at all times – One referee in charge of counting blue points and resetting the blue goal, one referee for the orange goal, one referee managing the removal of shelters and addition of Storm players during the period, and one head referee. The head referee should count Storm Surge points each round, and only the head referee should call penalties.
A coach whose team is playing should not referee that particular game.
- Give the general public the chance to try the game by holding public play sessions (even outdoors) which are integrated into larger events, such as festivals or conferences. Staff a hurricane prep kit assembly table at the event.
- The first practice sessions can be played without involving Powers. Once players have a solid understanding of the rules, introduce Powers one at a time, adding a new power every week. This may help the players understand the value of the powers and how they synthesize, and it can help motivate players to encourage their families and friends to submit photos of their prep kits online. At every practice where a new power is added, coaches should lead a discussion of why that power is important in preparing for hurricanes.
- Encourage the parents to get involved. They can help spread the word about the game, encourage kit submissions, and ensure the community’s attendance at the final tournament.
- Require that each kit submitted to the website be unique. Discourage “Step and Repeat” kit photo sessions that involve different people taking photos with the same hurricane prep kit.
- Waivers and Releases – If the tournament is held off-site from the practice venues, waivers specific to the venue may be required for all participants. Have your legal counsel review, as you may need to acquire insurance for the players and staff involved. For reference, these are the waivers for minor players and waivers for adult players and staff that we used.