Role Play Simulation Game

Fire in the Forest

Designed to stimulate a fresh and wider understanding of the global significance of the Amazon rainforest and the urgent need to address its problems.

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Fire in the Forest is a role play simulation game. Originally published in 1990, it has reached over 100,000 participants nationwide and overseas, including the Environmental Conference in Kazan, Russia. Reflecting on the deepening crisis in the Amazon River Basin, the simulation has been updated and re-released by Moorhead Kennedy and his team for remote, in-person, and hybrid educational settings.

The simulation begins in a fictitious South American country where a land use crisis is threatening civil society while the environment of the rainforest remains at extreme risk. Working in teams, participants take roles of environmentalists, bank representatives, local indigenous people, regional government officials, displaced settlers, intermediaries, and media. They are all under the intense pressure of a deadline to solve land use disputes amidst fast-moving events of the simulation.

Playing a simulation game around a table

Intended Audience

Fire in the Forest can be played with participants at various levels of maturity and familiarity with the issues involved. The simulation is designed for all of the following.

  • middle and high school through all college and university settings
  • government agencies
  • corporations
  • religious organizations
  • citizen groups

In secondary schools, mixed student and adult participation, e.g. as a community event, can be most successful.

Class 1
Weeks 1-9
Session 1
45 min
Class 2
Week 10
Session 2
45 min
Class 3
Week 11
Session 3
45 min
Class 4
Week 12
45 min
Class 5
Weeks 13-14
Total Time
3-4 Hours
5 Class Periods
14 Weeks

Time Requirements

In its most basic form, Fire in the Forest can be presented in as little as three hours. There are four distinct periods:

  1. Role Play Session One
  2. Role Play Session Two
  3. Role Play Session Three
  4. Debriefing, Discussion, and Evaluation

Each session can be completed in 40–50 minutes. How you choose to deploy the simulation depends on your circumstances. Implementing the simulation through a series of instructional periods, as a unit within a larger course, or in its entirety via a workshop setting are all worthwhile.

Devices used when running the simulation

Context of Use

Fire in the Forest can be deployed in a variety of ways depending on different settings, schedules, and technological resources available. This allows a flexible approach to meet any educational challenge and to adapt the simulation as needed.

  • The interactive pdf materials are readily printed and/or distributed, and can be used on any digital device.
  • The vital communications and teamwork processes can take place in person or remotely by phone, texting, chat, and/or live video streaming.
  • For larger schools, learning management systems such as Blackboard or Canvas can be used to coordinate messaging.
Role Booklet

Curriculum Unit

Fire in the Forest curriculum unit provides everything you need to run the simulation, including the following.

  • 40 role booklet pdf files which can be either printed on paper or viewed digitally (via browsers online or PDF readers on computers, laptops, and mobile devices.) These booklets describe the background of a character, initial position on issues, and instructions for all three sessions.
  • Numerous other resources including a 100+ page facilitator’s manual which includes instructions and all additional digital files needed to prepare for and run the simulation, whether in person or remotely.

Single user licenses of Fire in the Forest can be purchased by teachers and facilitators for $99. Discounts of 10 – 30% are available for multiple-user site licenses. (See shopping cart for more details.) Please contact us for licenses greater than 10 users.

Fire in the Forest also available to sponsors seeking to donate the unit to an educational institution of their choice. All sponsorships are tax-deductible. Sample previews of Fire in the Forest materials are available upon request.