The serious game I decided to analyze and play was called Stop Disasters. It is a simulation game created by the UN/ISDR to help people learn more about how to prevent disasters from happening. The ISDR is the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. The game features 5 different disaster scenario options. There are also different modes of Easy, Medium and Hard. The disaster options are Tsunami, Hurricane, Wild Fire, Earthquake and flood. The website also features multiple tabs which show more information about the game, information about developers and Hi-Scores of players. You also have the option of 5 different languages, so the game can be used in many countries. The graphics are very basic but they are not the feature of this game. The main focus is to inform people on how to be ready for natural disasters and they do a great job of this.
I chose Tsunami as my disaster and also picked easy mode because I have never played. I was sent to a beach with villagers and small homes as well as a community center. Before the timer began I was told I had to provide accommodations for 320 people and built a hospital and school in the area. There was a budget of $50,000 and only 20 minutes of time to complete it all. Right away my first instinct was to build protection on the beach to prevent the tsunami from doing a lot of damage. There were a few defense options and when you go to select an option there is an information tab telling you about it and how effective it will be. It also tells you about the effects the defense system has on the villagers and the surrounding areas. An example of this would be the Breakwaters, they help to protect inlets against big waves but they are also expensive and affect the natural ecology found in the ocean like coral reefs. My tactic was to build a lot of Breakwaters and put multiple sand dunes on the beach first. I worried more about prevention than protection and awareness which was my big mistake. Then I focused on the village and raised the houses and provided the villagers with evacuation information. I ran out of money and was only able to upgrade a few houses to make them stronger. I did build a hospital and school but the school wasn’t reinforced or upgraded due to funds. I also forgot to build another hotel and failed that part of the mission. The screenshot below shows my results from when I played the game. They aren’t that good however and made me realize I would be screwed in the event of a tsunami.
As you can see from the screenshot I didn’t do that well. I failed to house all 320 people but came close and that was probably the only thing I did right even though some died. Both my school and hospital were destroyed because I ran out of funding for them. 19 buildings were destroyed which I am pretty sure was almost all of them. After analyzing the mission report, it is clear that I spent too much money on defense and not nearly enough on housing. The gamification of these natural disasters helped me to gain a new perspective. There are probably many villages or towns that have had multiple tsunamis and know how and when to be ready for them. But places like Japan might not have been as ready for them as you can see from the YouTube video.
I think that this game definitely achieves their goal, which is to educate more people on how to be prepared. I played one game on easy for only about 20 minutes and realized that I would most likely not survive a tsunami. It is also available to almost anyone with a computer if you just go to the website. Many other serious games and simulators require you to pay for it or download it from a website. Stop Disasters can be played by anyone in the world who had a computer and internet access. Depending on your region and where you live this game can help to educate you on the natural disasters that can occur. The Wildfire mode could be useful in California which has seen quite a few Wildfires in recent years. The game can serve as an educational and informative game for kids as well as adults to help them understand what to do if these disasters do occur. It might not make you a expert on the events and know what causes them but the goal is to make more people ready for the disasters not to inform them how they are created.
We talked a lot in class about gamification being used to help people and I think this game is a prime example of the impact games can have on society. This game can teach you the consequences of the natural disasters. Majority of the people in my village died because I thought buying a lot of sand dunes would stop the Tsunami, but I was very wrong. Luckily it wasn’t real life and this game allowed me the safe environment to learn about Tsunamis and the steps you need to take to be protected from them. I should probably play the Flood game mode just in case another flood occurs in Bloomsburg like it did in 2011. If it ever does flood again in Bloomsburg the University should direct everyone to stopdisastersgame.org so they are ready.