A new children’s video game titled “The Day the Earth Shook,” commissioned by the Illinois Terrorism Task Force and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and funded by Homeland Security will be employed as a teaching tool to educate children about how to prepare for an earthquake as part of next week’s Midwest earthquake exercise is already causing controversy.
On April 28, the state of Illinois and other Midwestern states will participate in the “Great Central U.S. Shakeout” to prepare for a massive earthquake that has long been predicted by experts to occur along the New Madrid fault line that runs into southern Illinois.
Chicago residents may or may not be aware of the doomsday scenario, however, those residing close to the New Madrid fault line including some of my relatives, are well aware of both the history and future predictions of earthquakes.
In restaurants and souvenir shops in southern states in the New Madrid Seismic Zone are many reminders of a series of catastrophic earthquakes that occurred between mid-December 1811 and mid-March 1812, including a variety of.legends and folklores The epicenter of the last of three earthquakes occurred in the river port town of New Madrid, Missouri, hence the name of the fault line.and is estimated to be the strongest ever recorded on the North American continent.
“The Day the Earth Shook” is available for download to everyone for free on the State of Illinois Emergency Management website. The simple design is a new educational approach and part of the Illinois plan to prepare their residents for a quake triggered by the New Madrid fault line.
The “Great Central U.S. Shakeout” will be the first ever drill in the central United States, where many states would be impacted if a major earthquake hit the New Madrid Seismic Zone. If a level 7 or 8 quake were to hit the area it could impact 15 million people.
The University of Illinois’ visualization lab created the game with the help of scientists from the University of Illinois the National centre for Supercomputing applications.
An Intelligence Report released by ABC 7 Chicago local news assessment of the game includes questions concerning the timing of the video game’s release due to the disaster images of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami still flashing across the television screen, The images are difficult for adults to comprehend, would more disaster talk be too much? In addition to calling the video game’s music cheesy thriller music, the ABC News report further states:
“Illinois emergency management officials are using science fiction scare tactics to educate children about how to prepare for an earthquake.”
One Australian gaming website Kotaku’s review of the game says “The Day the Earth Shook.” is meant to be a video game that teaches children about surviving an earthquake, but it’s more likely to educate them about the dangers of bad game design.
ABC 7 Chicago reporter Chuck Goudie called spending resources for a children’s video game as an unusual way for Illinois to spend federal money to prepare for the earthquake excercise. Indeed it is unusual that any effort to the educate school age children about what to do in case a disaster or terrorist act occurs. Two studies last year found that America has woefully neglected to prepare it’s largest group – the little citizens.
Interestingly, studies overwhelming reveal that children respond very well in disasters when they are informed-in fact even better than the parents. However, parents in the US. are reluctant when it comes to school programs to teach even the basics out of fear of scaring the children.
Judging by the simplicity of the video game, it apppears to have been created for very young children. In the description of the game it says version one, and as long as it is not intended to hold the a child attention very long – it is at least a start.
After playing the game, it does seem that $286,000 is quite a bit more than necessary to produce the game as critics have pointed out.