Illinois Government’s Game Helps Kids Prepare for Earthquakes With…Aliens

Earthquakes happen in Illinois. So says the Illinois Emergency Management Administration, which has partnered with the Illinois Terrorism Task for and commissioned “The Day the Earth Shook,” a free PC game that teaches kids how to prepare for an earthquake.

And in order to not be totally boring, the lessons are taught by a benevolent, really well-informed alien.

As a totally unprepared kid who is visited by aliens AND about to be the victim of an earthquake, you wander around your house, gathering items for your Emergency Preparedness Kit for your first task, check for earthquake danger zones during a simulated tremor for the second. The alien guides you throughout as you walk around the house, clicking on objects or waiting for events to happen.

It’s not exactly the most amazing game ever, either graphically or in terms of fun, but, uh…it does seem to have a lot of good, useful information.

The Day the Earth Shook had a pretty big team working on it — it was made by the Electronic Visualization Lab at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (ha ha ha…supercomputing…not based on these screens) and the Center for Public Safety and Justice at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. You can thank the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Grant Program Directorate, the Department of Homeland Security, for bankrolling the project.

Tell you what, if these guys had wanted to teach kids about something using video games, they should have talked to NASA about Moonbase Alpha, a game in which you play a space handyman charged with making sure a moon station doesn’t lose all its oxygen, suffocating its inhabitants.

Perhaps somewhat ironically, it contains no aliens.

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