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Online Game Prepares Teens for Storm Surges

Source: Loughborough University

A new online game instructs children 12 and older how to survive a powerful storm surge by teaching them to identify some early signs of coastal flooding.

Called Storm Force, researchers designed the free online game by building on years of research on the topic.

Storm surges - large and alarming sea levels caused by storms - can be devastating, overtaking sea walls and other defenses. The purpose behind Storm Force is to teach citizens, particularly those located in coastal areas, the skills necessary to survive such an event.

Taking on the role of a Storm Force cadet, players progress through the game by protecting virtual citizens from an impending storm. The duties of the cadet include evacuating residents from waterfront locations, gathering samples and collecting data. As the cadet works at saving citizens, important facts about storm surges are revealed to the player, including details about their cause, warning signs as well as life-saving tips.

Additionally, Storm Force includes a soundtrack that mimics the specific underwater signals created by an approaching storm. This detail is meant to familiarize players with the sound preceding an approaching surge.

“Being able to spot the early warnings of coastal flooding is very useful, especially if you live by or go on holiday near the coast. By playing the game, players will be able to identify the mechanisms that create a storm surge and the risks associated with it," said Storm Force's creator Dr. Emiliano Renzi of the School of Science at Loughborough University.

“They will also be able to make an informed decision on whether to evacuate a beach if they see a thunderstorm far at sea. This will reduce the number of accidents involving unaware bathers being swept out to sea by storm surges," added Renzi.

Most importantly, the game encourages gamers to play a role in climate change mitigation. “The ocean is never too far away, and it affects every living being on the planet," explained Renzi.

"Human activities can affect the ocean on a global scale. Therefore, we have the power to influence such events, no matter where we live."

The creators behind Storm Force hope that the game will be included in school curriculums.

“I also hope the game will inspire their interest in scientific research, and help them appreciate the role of research in mitigating risks.”

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