CREATED WITH AND FOR THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA)

Cadence

SERVICES: GAME DESIGN, UX RESEARCH
COLLABORATORS: AFFORDANCE STUDIO, CUDZU CREATIVE


In partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), iThrive Games designed and produced Disaster Mind, a simulation game that promotes disaster preparedness in those who play it. Hosted on iThrive Sim, the single player simulation game supports FEMA in reaching young people in hard-to-reach areas of their region by engaging them in a readiness and resilience-building activity that delivers transformative education and helps them build the right mindset. Set during the onset of different natural disasters, Disaster Mind helps players arrive at the understanding that stress management skills, the right mindset, being prepared, and having important conversations with family and community members can prevent an emergency from becoming a full-blown catastrophe. The game is slated to launch in late 2023.


With Teens: Intended to train and activate young audiences, Disaster Mind began with focus groups held with teens ages 14 to 16 from Jeffco Public Schools who helped inform the game's learning outcome and story elements. Their wisdom highlighted a deep concern for their pets, a desire for a coordinated plan and useful skills in the wake of the COVID pandemic, strategies that combat feelings of loneliness and helplessness, and helped the final game reflect how teens define terms like 'trusted source' and frame challenges. In the game's agile and iterative cycle of playtesting, evaluation, and refinement, teens also gave feedback to ensure a positive, compelling user experience, even voting for the final game title, Disaster Mind. Most teens who tested the game shared that they intend to talk to their family about their disaster preparedness plan, now understanding how important it is.


"This is really interesting because I'm from Puerto Rico. A hurricane passed in 2017. I experienced that hurricane and I feel like this is a really good way to call the attention of youth, well everywhere, because it's something that is really important. We really don't think about it. Natural disasters, nothing, nothing about it. We don't think about it and we don't pay too much attention to it so this is a great idea."  — Teen

"My most significant learning moment from playing this simulation was that even if I'm not an adult, I will have to make important decisions when a natural disaster occurs. I won't always have an adult making the decisions." — Teen

"While nothing highlights the importance of emergency preparedness quite as well as the visceral experience of a natural disaster, we don't want it to come to that. An engaging simulation is a fantastic tool for laying down the mental pathways we need to activate in times of crisis. That's why we are thrilled to be designing a disaster preparedness simulation with the iThrive team. iThrive's unique co-design approach is illuminating how to mobilize young people's creativity and distinct strengths in the service of building mindsets and skills needed for resiliency across disaster preparedness, response, and recovery."
  DANIEL NYQUIST, EXECUTIVE OFFICER, AND STEPHANIE POORE, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST, AT FEMA REGION VIII