Gamebased Training for Disaster and Emergency Scenarios

Around 850,000 people work in German hospitals. Their daily routine is demanding, their responsibility always high, and in addition to all the medical, nursing and administrative activities, they deal with disaster prevention on a daily basis. Because most accidents can be prevented by simple preventive measures: for example, hospital beds that block necessary escape routes in an emergency must always be moved aside. It is equally important that staff members have internalised the procedures to be followed in an actual emergency. A central problem here is that the rules learned in standard training courses for the correct procedure in dangerous situations are difficult to remember.

The TRACY project therefore dealt with the question of the extent to which games can improve the internalisation of preventive measures and life-saving response chains in the event of a disaster. To this end, the game designers developed a total of three different game prototypes between 06/2012 and 02/2015, which were used and comparatively evaluated by the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

A "simulative prototype" focused on the highest degree of photorealism and detail. The player learns of a dangerous situation (e.g. fire), has to check and report it in the correct order and try to extinguish it. The game world is a spatial representation of a section of the children's hospital of the Charité Berlin in order to create a high reference to spatial everyday experiences. Through the realistic implementation (including motion captured animations), transfer effects of the learned knowledge into practice were aimed for.

In a "structural prototype", on the other hand, the focus was on the interdependencies of different actors and their respective behaviour in the event of a fire. Here, the player has the task of playing through various reaction chains in different types of scenarios by navigating a nurse with the mouse through problematic situations on a virtual ward.

Finally, in the "game-focused prototype", the focus was on the entertaining game experience: in small puzzle, timing and skill tasks, the player takes care of everyday preventive measures on a hospital ward. For example, escape routes must be kept clear and fire doors must be kept closed.

The result of the TRACY project was that individual prototypes achieved equally high and in some cases higher training effects than classic standard training for fire prevention. In addition, in-depth experience was gained regarding the usability, acceptance, user interaction and effectiveness of training games in the health sector.

The joint project between the GAME CHANGER Institute and the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin was funded by the German Aerospace Centre. At the end of the project, it was named Project of the Month by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in February 2015.