When people enjoy doing things, it makes it easier to learn them. That is one of the reasons why there are things like the times tables set to fun tunes. Playing pretend is a way that children learn to do real-world things like cleaning up and even parenting. In the same way, playing games can encourage retention of necessary skills and knowledge about survival and preparedness.
Many types of games can be used to learn skills, from card and board games to video games to active games. Some may be obvious, but some might not have been considered before.
Active games are games that one actually participates in, often outside, though some inside games exist, as well.
- Airsoft – played with guns that shoot small plastic pellets. Participants attempt to shoot ‘enemies’ and be the last person standing. It is wise to wear eye protection when playing airsoft. This can be played free-for-all or in teams.
- Laser Tag – played with laser guns and receiver vests. This is also a free-for-all type game but can be played in teams. There are some outdoor arenas, but many laser tag venues are inside.
- Paintball – played with guns that shoot plastic balls filled with liquid paint. Old clothes or protective clothing should be worn as the paint can stain. Eye protection is also a good idea with this type of game.
All of these teach fighting skills including use of cover, aiming at a target, and working with a team. Guarding is also learned in games that include protecting a base.
Another active game is a scavenger hunt.
This scavenger hunt game encourages finding things related to the cards, which include all the senses. Each card is specific to one sense.
Board and Table Games
When it is necessary or desirable to stay indoors, table games are a good way to connect and to learn things at the same time. Playing games together can reinforce ideas and aid in learning by working together. These games include wilderness survival and end of the world scenarios.
- Backcountry: The Game of Wilderness Survival
Set in the Great Smoky Mountains, this wilderness survival game includes a waterproof map that resists tearing and fits into a bag with the pieces. Skill and strategy are important in this game, which requires keeping up with food and injuries and is made to be able to be played on the trail.
- Conflicted: Survive the Apocalypse
A sense of humor is a key component to surviving, but this one also helps to consider some of the decisions that will be a part of an apocalypse situation.
- Let’s Go Hiking
This hiking and tracking game can be played by up to six people, and teaches about wildlife and how to be careful in the woods, how to leave things better than they were found, and how to track efficiently.
- Outdoor Survival
A board game from Avalon Hill, this game teaches wilderness skills using a 22-inch by 24-inch map playing board, 96 playing pieces and a lot more.
Set in 2079 after a global conflict, this game encourages cooperation and learning to survive through a whole new world.
This cooperative game allows players to coordinate their efforts to treat the world and prevent epidemics by gathering information and offering medications.
This strategy game is geared more to trees than people, but it teaches the science of trees and how they grow.
Cards are easy to carry around and usually come in decks of 52 like a standard playing card deck. Most decks that have tips, tricks, and other information on them also have the standard playing card symbols, as well, allowing them to be used to play any kind of game one would normally play with playing cards while still being able to learn about wilderness and survival.
- Animal Tracks
This memory-style game teaches what each animal or bird’s tracks look like. 80 high-quality cards have color pictures and complete information about the tracks.
This card game has beautiful illustrations of herbs that players choose to collect. 72 cards depicting herbs, 16 cards representing containers, and 1 reward. For two to four players.
- Match a Leaf
Learning to recognize trees can be very helpful if one needs to live among them. This memory-style game matches trees with their leaves, aiding players in learning how to recognize a tree by its leaves.
- Sea to Sky Playing Cards
This two-pack of cards contains one deck of foods that can be found in the wilderness and one deck of survival strategies.
- Survival Tips Playing Cards
Each of these plastic-coated playing cards contains an important survival skill, tip, or trick that can assist in surviving a disaster or catastrophe.
- Urban Survival Playing Cards
A pack of survival skills cards that can also be used as standard playing cards, these cards have all kinds of skills and information printed on them to be used in case of need.
- Wild Cards: Edible Wild Foods
Playing cards decorated with the descriptions and photos of 52 different plants that can be eaten from the wild. Use the cards for reference or learn by using them for other games.
- ArmA II (PC)
This military simulator set in the part of the world that is now Russia, this game uses landscapes from the real world and is used by some actual military groups for training.
- State of Decay
Surviving is not easy. A zombie, Walking Dead type game has players rescuing other survivors and working together to beat the zombies and gather enough supplies to survive.
- World War Z, Xbox One or PS4
This third-person view game allows up to four players to play cooperatively to defeat a horde of zombies and survive the zombie apocalypse.