Cascadia 9.0 Video Game to Help Young Adults Prepare for Earthquakes

It's always ok to be prepared.
It's always ok to be prepared. Lewis & Clark College

An old saying goes that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In the case of natural disasters like earthquakes, it’s always good to be prepared. A new video game has been released in hopes to inspire young adults to be prepared against earthquakes.

Titled Cascadia 9.0, it was developed by a team composed of various experts including programmers, geologists, media scholars, and psychologists. The name comes from the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a 600-mile fault located off the Pacific Coast and is said to have the potential to produce a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

Solving Problems

In the game, players work their way through a devastated city looking for their dog named Tsu, short for tsunami. Along the way, they encounter different situations that need their attention like, among others, unpurified drinking water, aftershocks, and gas leaks. By the time players are reunited with Tsu, they should have encountered various problems that occured before, during, and after an earthquake.

The Beginnings

The idea behind the game was based on the concern about what appeared as a lack of “earthquake preparedness culture” in the Northwest. The team of researchers wanted to know if it was possible to use non-traditional media to motivate young adults in preparing against natural disasters. This demographic was chosen since they were said to be often left out of messaging campaigns, which usually targeted kids or heads of households.

Earthquake Preparedness Project

The game itself was a result of the Earthquake Preparedness Project of Lewis & Clark. This was a brainchild of Liz Safran, an associate professor of geological science and director of the Earth system science and environmental studies programs at Lewis & Clark. Safran was convinced that there was a better way to engage young adults in disaster preparedness. In 2016, Safran formed an interdisciplinary research team that included computer scientist Peter Drake, psychology professor Erik Nilsen, and media scholar Bryan Sebok. The preparedness project formally started in 2018 with a proof-of-concept pilot study, and in 2019, the team received a grant from the National Science Foundation.

In a statement, Safran shared that they are trying to get some basic understanding of what people can learn from games and how games can increase people’s intentions to prepare for earthquakes. Safran went on to say that they’re happy with the first game considering it covers a lot of territory.

For future versions of the game, the team hopes to explore the value of cooperation, environment, and social reinforcement on motivation to prepare.

Get Cascadia 9.0 here.

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