Disaster Hero

Game review by
Mark Raby, Common Sense Media
Disaster Hero Game Poster Image
FEMA-sponsored game teaches about disaster preparedness.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn the basic steps of being prepared for, and responding to, a natural disaster. They learn to make a plan, have an emergency kit ready, know which disasters can and cannot be forecast ahead of time. Players learn to be aware of their geographic location and which disasters are most likely to affect them, and how to respond to warnings. They also learn basic first-aid practices for how to treat minor injuries. By playing Disaster Hero, kids learn to understand and be aware of possible natural disasters that can occur where they live.

Positive Messages

This game presents the message that no matter how young or old you are, you can help ensure your safety and the safety of those around you in the event of a disaster.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The central character in this game is named Dante Shields, and he proves to be a very worthy role model. Players can easily look up to him as he encourages them throughout their missions and imparts wisdom about disaster preparedness.

Ease of Play

The game has three levels of difficulty, aimed at providing a relevant and appropriate experience for kids ranging from 1st grade through 8th grade. Activities consist of both traditional video game-style mini-games that test hand-eye coordination and puzzle solving, and multiple-choice questions about disaster preparedness. Players don't need to be perfect; the game will coax them along even if they have trouble with the gameplay or the disaster questions.

Violence & Scariness

While there is discussion about disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, none of it is violent or graphically descriptive in nature.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disaster Hero is a free online game, developed in partnership with the US Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It was created to help teach kids what to do in the event of an emergency. It places emphasis on natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The educational content is the same as the information on FEMA's website; it is simply presented in a way that is more engaging and interesting to kids. They engage in various mini-games while taking quizzes about emergency preparedness. Players can choose their difficulty level, ranging from "Bronze" for kids in 1st to 3rd grade, to "Gold" for those in 7th and 8th grade.

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What's it about?

DISASTER HERO puts players in the position of a \"hero\" that sets out to conquer all major natural disasters. Players complete a series of activities, each of which is connected to a specific type of disaster. For example, players are shown two versions of the same room and must find which room is missing the appropriate disaster preparedness items (e.g., an emergency kit, extra food for their pets, a list of emergency contact numbers). After players complete the activities for each disaster, they receive a certificate that they can print at home, recognizing them as a \"Disaster Hero.\"

Is it any good?

For some of the activities in Disaster Hero, there is a disconnect between the gameplay and the educational content. Some mini-games, for example, focus on speed and award players for getting through it as quickly as possible rather than studying the disaster preparedness tips. There is also a lot of unnecessary dialogue during the intermittent story scenes and dialogue. Rather than using this time to educate players about disaster preparedness, there is a lot of talk about the fictitious sci-fi world in which the game is set -- talk that is neither captivating nor pivotal to the gameplay or the overall message of the game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their emergency preparedness plans. What is your family's plan will be in case of a natural disaster?

  • What disasters are most likely where your family lives?

  • Have you ever been frightened before during a storm or other form of natural disaster? What can be done to help you from being frightened in the future?

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