Everyday we see new disasters strike around the world. From earthquakes, typhoons, to devastating fires, the list could go on and on. What makes the heartache even worse is that most of the time those hit with the disasters are ill-equipped to handle them. They have no food, water, or survival skills. The looming question that big government agencies as well as international relief agencies ask is “how can we educate the public to care for themselves until help arrives?” It turns out there may be a way.
There really is no doubt that post-apocalyptic-themed video games and other genres are pretty popular right now. Some parents might find this a little daunting as they watch their children zone out to the latest zombie craze-themed game. However, it might surprise you to know that just last year, the CDC actually came out with a statement that said these games could be good for you. Ok, well “good for you” was not the exact words that they used, but they did say that if you were prepared to deal with a zombie craze, then you could survive any type of natural disaster. This brings into question the actual importance of using such video games as tools for teaching disaster preparedness.
If you take a look at other, less violent games just for the purpose of usage, such as Candy Crush and Words With Friends, you will see that video games are popular with people of all ages.
Every year, new game consoles are released which spread hype for whatever new games can be played on the machines. With this in mind the possibilities are endless for humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, or government agencies such as the CDC for developing more and more software that can actually help to prepare the public for any type of disasters through gaming. Some have already begun to do so.
Disaster Hero is a free, online game that was developed by the American College of Emergency Physicians. The game is aimed at younger children ages 1-8 as well as parents, teachers and others who may often be around young children. It is a simulation game where children learn what to do before, during and after any type of disaster. The main goal is to teach them to make a plan ahead of time, make up or buy a kit, and stay informed. Scores are saved and badges are earned as players go successfully through the levels.
The Day The Earth Shook
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency along with the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois recently released a video game for middle school students that aims to teach emergency preparedness in the case of an earthquake. The Day The Earth Shook places the character in an earthquake and surrounding scenario. The goal of the game is to teach the player how to prepare for such an event and where to go in such an event to find safety. The hope is that teachers will begin to introduce this type of curriculum into their lessons to raise disaster awareness.
Disaster Master is another preparedness game; actually there are two games, developed by FEMA and Ready.gov. Both of these games are free to play and can be found on the Ready.gov website. Their mission statement is that disasters affect everyone regardless of where they happen so everyone needs to be prepared. In the first game, Disaster Master, players help a group of young heroes fight everything from earthquakes to fires. Players are in charge of making the decisions for the heroes. If they make the right choice, the reward is moving to the next level and making a graphic novel. The second game is called “Build a Kit” and is a time game where the player tries to help the heroes build a disaster kit and checklist as fast as possible.
Plague Inc. is a simulation game that is a bit more for the older crowd. In this game, the player actually develops infectious diseases. The diseases can be as infectious as the mind could imagine. The player selects the traits, the symptoms, and how the disease spreads when it is released into the population. In order to win the game you have to infect the whole earth’s population as well as kill everyone on earth. As the game progresses, more bacteria will infect the virus and change the disease, requiring a different strategy to be successful.
Stop Disasters is an online flash game where players make a community that can withstand a disaster. The disaster can be anything from a tsunami to a wildfire. The player is given a budget and has to use the budget to save the population from disaster.
The great news is that the gaming community is thinking ahead when it comes to natural disasters. Gaming websites are filled with information to help someone who is unfamiliar with a certain game. With the invention of the latest technology, things are only bound to get better and hopefully with the tools that are available, disaster preparedness will become second nature.
Jodie Renee is an avid video game player with a desire to see the world progress in disaster preparedness. She has written many video game guides that can be found on Ehow. She an be contacted on Google+.