Gampell A, Gaillard JC, Parsons M, Le Dé L. 2020. Fostering student participation in disaster risk reduction through disaster video games. Australian Journal of Emergency Management. 35(2):43-50.
The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030, the New Zealand National Disaster Resilience Strategy, and the Australian National Strategy for Disaster Resilience integrate the concept of education into the overall goal of disaster risk reduction (DRR). While the links between the two overarching strategies could be stronger, the flexibility offered to teachers in how they can approach the subject allows for a greater inclusion of DRR activities.
Children are greatly affected by disasters, but their perspectives are often the least heard and included in DRR. Research into the use of disaster video games as learning tools brings together the perspectives of teachers and students. The aim is to foster children’s participation in DRR and support the aims of the Sendai Framework. This paper summarises a video game research project using three case studies. We find existing ‘serious’ disaster video games often don’t achieve the outcomes of a mainstream game like Minecraft. This means video games cannot be developed as a deliverable with no thought to the needs of the target audience merely to satisfy a checklist. Nor should a video game be used within a classroom just because it is an ‘innovative’ approach to learning. Instead, a process inclusive of all stakeholders should appropriately assess needs, which can lead to genuine and meaningful learning outcomes. Video games are one example of a learning pathway in policy and curriculum, and this needs to be acknowledged and promoted. Resources to support teachers using video games in the classroom (video game, lesson plans, suggestive teaching approaches) are also needed. Video games should foster and encourage students to engage with disaster and DRR rather than detracting from engagement with a focus on content.