One of the most challenging things about disaster preparedness is involving children in the process. It's not enough to think your disaster plans through. You can make your kids do anything, but it can be hard for many of the little ones to feel a bit of ownership in the process. Kid are not the ones to be blamed for this. According to a recent survey conducted by FEMA and the Citizen Corps, Personal Preparedness in America: 2009 Citizen Corps Survey, Americans are no better prepared for a natural disaster or terror attack than they were in 2003. According to the survey, Americans remain unprepared because they still expect to rely on emergency responders in the wake of disaster.
This is where the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) stepped in. The ACEP, with the help of a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, have hired video game publisher Legacy Interactive to create a web-based simulation for all ages to learn how to prepare for all sorts of emergencies, including earthquakes, floods, hurricaines, and tornadoes. The game stressed three main themes: getting an emergency kit, having an emergency plan, and staying informed. ACEP president Dr. Angela Gardner, said that the game is a revolutionary approach to utilizing new media to reach an audience that is missing the safety message.
“This project to develop an educational program for children using a game platform will be a unique approach to teaching kids to have an active role in home disaster planning,” she explained. “ACEP is pleased to partner with many other stakeholders representing teachers, schools, daycare centers and youth organizations in the development of this program.”
The game, Disaster Hero, is slated for release in 2011. Currently in development by Los Angeles-based Legacy Interactive, an organization best known for TV drama games and medical simulations such as Law & Order, Pet Pals: Animal Doctor, and Emergency Room, is designing Disaster Hero to incorporate many different gaming genres to best teach the educational content of each lesson. Time management and puzzles will be used to teach about escape routes and meeting places, hidden object gameplay will teach about what objects belong in an emergency kit, and simulation gameplay will be employed to teach first aid techniques, such as applying pressure to stop bleeding.
Play is designed to appeal to all ages in an effort to be a useful resource in family disaster planning. Players assume the role of a "disaster hero" in these many scenarios, with quizzes at the end of each encounter, with points earned for correct answers and gameplay. The site will also include downloadable content for teachers and parents, including checklists and learning activities to take beyond the computer.
Casual gaming has long been on the rise on the United States as people of all ages become daily Internet users. Legacy Interactive president and CEO Ariella Lehrer explained that her company's specialty niche in web-based simulation and casual gaming makes her a natural partner for project like Disaster Hero.
“Legacy’s success in developing casual games such as The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes and House, M.D., combined with our long experience creating medical simulations for adults and kids, makes us an ideal partner for this project," she said in a statement. "It’s a privilege to be able to work with the American College of Emergency Physicians on this very important project.”
While the game is not slated for release until next year, interested prospective player can check sign up for more information at disasterhero.com.