Friday, 19 July 2013

Godzilla in Amsterdam - A Civilian Crisis Game

From the dark water it rose. The ferry rolled heavily to port as the frightened passengers stared incredulously into the air and the fiery eyes of the monster. Their panicked cries smothered in the waves as the boat capsized into the river. Without noticing, the monster made landfall, placing its feet carelessly on and between the sleepy crowd of early commuters at the Central Station. As fear spread quickly, soon the alarm rang at all police stations and the mayor was awakened. Within an hour the crisis team was convened at the mayor's office, determined to deal with the thread as it presented itself.

As nobody knew Godzilla's drive and had no way of dealing with her, the first efforts were aimed at saving the roaming tourists and local population. Entrance into the town centre was blocked. Another objective was to save as much of the art treasures and monumental areas of the town for future generations. With Godzilla striding towards Museum Square, this became an increasing concern.

But while a team of brilliant scientists was set up to deal with the monster, the local services proved quite capable of limiting the immediate destruction. The fire brigade limited fires around Godzilla to a minimum, tourist were led out of town. And then disaster struck...

The Game Map
Fearing the potential damage to the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Gallery and the monumental Concertgebouw, the government had ordered the air force to prepare an air strike. The air force took this as a remit to actually bomb and laid all its powers of annihilation on Godzilla, destroying large amounts of fire brigade and ambulance material. The museums were levelled as hysterical conservators frantically laid down their lives in a heroic, but utterly futile effort to save Rembrandt's Night Watch and Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

All to the displeasure of the monster, which only became more enraged and determined to reach its goal. With the government and the rescue effort in shambles, all hope was laid in the hands of the scientists, who had been happily discussing alternative theories of Godzilla's descent and interesting evolutionary traits not commonly known in other bipedal reptiles.

They were rudely awakened to the enormity of their task and despite their pleas to save the specimen for future scientific research, they were persuaded at last to rather render their services to save human lives. The solution then proved relatively simple.

In the meantime Godzilla had continued her way leaving a smouldering wasteland in her trail. She was now reaching the edge of the city centre, where masses of refugees had been collected as well as the inbound commuters. No way in hell that these people could be evacuated from there in time.

In their race against the clock the scientist managed to apply their device to the monster and release the hollow charges to puncture its armoured scales, thereby releasing a compound (the composition of which is still to this day classified) that finally ended the life of Godzilla. Writhing in her dying flames, the giant reptile's anguished cries echoed over the badly damaged city...

Where the politicians immediately set out a parliamentary investigation of the decisions that led to the fateful bombing mission...

Then prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende
cleared by the parliamentary investigation
Godzilla is a game that employs more political aspects than operational games. In Godzilla the players were all members of the police, fire brigade and ambulance service in the great city of Amsterdam. The mayor and his staff were to coordinate the life saving effort faced with the towering hulk of the monster rising up from the river. In the background the Dutch government was bringing in fresh assets, like the armed forces and the team of brilliant scientists.

Most players stood around the table taking care of their units, convening for a few minutes every turn as their leaders coordinated their efforts. The mayor's office, the government and the headquarters of the armed forces were further away and relied on reports from the mayor to decide on issues off the map and dealt with anxious journalists.

If you are interested in playing in a megagame sometime, have a look at Megagame Makers. They do about six games a year in London and Leeds in the UK. Or Megagames NL, who do one game a year in the Netherlands.


  1. Is this an actual game? Can it be played on location? And can it be played on local maps? Would love to do this sometime!


  2. Hi Bas,

    yes, this was an actual game. It was based on a game about riots in the US late 1960s.

    It has been rerun in a different form (with different monsters) last year. See the report of that game:

    As you can see, the basics of the game are always the same: civilian authorities deal with a crisis. You can transpose it to any local map: CHicago, London, Amsterdam even Milton Keynes or Royston.


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