New evacuation-based computer game designed to make people more risk aware
What’s the right way to behave in an emergency? It turns out that often bad decisions made by people during an evacuation, such as heading towards the wrong exit or going back to pick up personal possessions, can cause significant delays. But how do you train for just such a situation?
The cost of providing evacuation drills for every public building would be enormous, so Bristol researchers have come up with a series of virtual experiments, packaged as ‘the Evac Game‘, which have been tested out on more than 4,000 people aged seven to 77. The game shows you how you would likely react in an emergency situation, and to make you more aware of the risk of your decisions.
“Using virtual environments to conduct experiments offers us a safe and controlled way to see how people behave in emergencies”
“Experiments can be expensive and simulating crowd evacuations could be stressful, meaning people might get hurt. So we needed to find additional approaches for research,” says Dr Nikolai Bode (pictured left), from Bristol’s Department of Engineering Mathematics. “Using virtual environments to conduct experiments offers us a safe and controlled way to see how people behave in emergencies.”
Even mathematical models which describe crowd flow can’t realistically predict what people will do, as the algorithms have to be based on assumptions rather than facts. As Nikolai says, “The trouble is, the assumptions and consequently the models, are not always accurate.”
“What is unique about this game is that it allows everyone to experience the sorts of decisions we have to make in emergencies,” he adds. “Players can compare their choices to what people did on average in our experiments. I really hope the game makes people stop and think about their own safety and that of others.”
You can play the game yourself at the Evacgame website.