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The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stop Disasters! is a free online simulation games where kids will watch a disaster happen to a community from a top-down perspective. After preparing for the ensuing disaster, kids watch a wild fire engulf homes and burn them to the ground, or a hurricane blow off the top of buildings. The images in the games are graphic representations of areas -- not real-life photos or videos -- but because of the nature of the topic, the simulation might be too scary for some kids. No one is shown as being injured; the death toll is simply assigned in the aftermath. There are also videos and real stories of kids who survived disasters in the website's Information section.
What's it about?
The United Nations' International Strategy for Disaster Reduction organization came up with STOP DISASTERS! game to help kids learn about natural disasters, how to prevent and mitigate their effects, and how to deal with the aftermath. This game educates kids by having them play through five scenarios: a tsunami in Southeast Asia, a hurricane in the Caribbean, a wildfire in Australia, an earthquake in the Mediterranean, and a flood in Europe. Each disaster can be played on three levels of difficulty. In each scenario, kids are given a set amount of money and time to make improvements to a community before a natural hazard occurs. As you play the simulation, you're given suggestions about how to prepare your community for the upcoming hazard. When you are done with preparations, the disaster occurs, which you watch from a top-down perspective. The game judges you on how well you protected your community.
Is it any good?
As with all good simulation games, in Stop Disasters!, kids learn by trial and error. The great plus here is that developers have taken extra steps to ensure that players are engaged whether they succeed in a round or not. Sharp graphics (for a sim) and great sound elements boost engagement; and the rush of racing against the clock leaves players wanting more regardless of the outcome. One caveat: Given the nature of the topic, some kids may find the simulations scary. But while people are reported as dead or injured, you never see anyone being hurt -- most of the fallout from disasters is reported as a fake news bulletin at the end of each round.
For those not put off by the subject matter, the game offers a terrific immersion that illustrates how public safety must be carefully engineered. In addition to learning by doing, the associated site to the game also provides fact sheets on each type of disaster and links to other resources.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether they live in an area likely to experience a natural disaster and what steps they can take to minimize its effect.
Many times, people affected by disasters don't have access to the Internet or cell phone coverage. How else might they get information they need to protect themselves? Warning systems? Radio broadcasts?
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Science: engineering, ecosystems, weather
Social Studies: events, global awareness, the economy
Math: money, numbers, statistics
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, applying information, problem solving
Emotional Development: empathy, handling stress, persevering
Responsibility & Ethics: learning from consequences, making wise decisions
Self-Direction: time management, work to achieve goals, working efficiently
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
- Release date: March 5, 2007
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: NR
Themes & Topics
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