There is a growing trend to prepare children for future disasters. A Japanese nonprofit organization has developed an event called Iza! Kaeru Caravan, which includes games that teach children and their families how to survive disasters, from earthquakes to floods. Many disaster experts and government officials from other countries have now implemented the Caravan in their own contexts. Based on ethnographic research in Japan and Chile, this article shows how playful methods in disaster preparedness orient children, and by proxy their families, to accept an apocalyptic future, helping the neoliberal state buy time. Advocates of disaster preparedness in Japan and Chile accept that state actors will not come immediately to the rescue. Playful methods mobilize children and their families to take responsibility for their own survival through the subjunctive work of the “as if.” Ambiguously positioned between fun and education, playful methods of preparedness command attention from children and adults—what I call “attentive play”—as they frame and reframe the games to figure out, “Is this play?” Ultimately, the article shows that attentive play buys time for the state to temporarily defer its responsibilities to citizens, but the ambiguity of play can also exceed its ideological effects.

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