5 Geoscience Games

The use of video games technology in education and training is now becoming more common place. Serious games are currently widely used to train Doctors, simulate military scenarios and for corporate training. Unsurprisingly the use of serious games to educate about natural hazards is also not a new concept. So what games are currently freely available? Here are some of the games I’ve come across for you to check out:

1. Volcano Island 

This game was developed as part of the Earthscope Panorama project by the Havard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. It is currently used within volcanic hazard outreach programmes in the Caribbean region and see’s the player making decisions as the Mayor of ‘Volcano Island’. The game includes videos and lots of information about volcanic hazards and how we monitor activity to prepare you for a press conference! Build up your popularity points and get ready to evacuate the islands residents as Mount Leakytop threatens to erupt.

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Screenshot from the main dashboard of Volcano Island.

 2. Stop Disasters Game

The Stop Disasters Game was created by Playerthree for the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). As the name suggests the objective of the game is to reduce the impact of natural disasters. The game covers a range of natural disasters including hurricanes, wildfire, flooding, earthquakes and tsunamis. It allows the player to upgrade and install defences for each of the hazards in order to reduce the loss of life and damage to buildings. This can include building breakwaters, installing seismometers, building levees or retro fitting buildings. It provides information about each of the methods used and is supported by information factsheets from the website.

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Screenshot from the Stop Disasters Game. Unlock as many of the ‘Key Facts’ throughout gameplay as you can.

3. From Dust 

A popular game developed by Eric Chahi if you have a Google Account you can try this game for free. This is a strategy and role play game (opposed to a serious game) in which the player controls nature and the elements to aid the survival of your people from the effects of natural disasters which include tsunamis, earthquakes and a volcanic eruption. Although the game’s primary aim is not education it’s a fun way to understand what these phenomena may look like.

For those without a Google Account here’s a dramatic  video trailer of the game:

 

4. Sai Fah – The Flood Fighter

This game is free to download on Android and Apple and was made by OpenDream for UNESCO Bangkok in response to the devastating 2011 flooding in Thailand. It aims to teach children about how to recognise if flooding is likely and what to do during a flood event. The game is brimming with useful information which is presented in a fun way and with other little challenges to complete. This is the perfect example of a serious game but Warning –  this is also highly addictive!

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Screenshot of Sai Fah: The Flood Fighter which aims to educate about flood events.

The above games are all games related to natural hazards. The last game I’d like to mention is of a different nature and is an advertising game (advergame) but still related to Geology:

5. Quest for Oil 

This game was developed by Serious Games Interactive for the Maersk Group. The aim of the game is to educate the player about the processes behind drilling for oil and in turn advertise the company. This is a high level game and integrates geological skills such as interpreting geological cross-sections and seismic lines. The ultimate goal of the game is to interpret the information and locate oil. This game is a little complicated and perhaps aimed at more of an undergrad level but really makes you think about the processes involved in oil prospecting. The website also provides numerous sources of supporting materials. Definitely worth a play!

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Screenshot of ‘Quest for Oil’ by Maersk.

Happy gaming!

– L

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