STOP DISASTERS: SERIOUS GAMES WITH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN RIO DE JANEIRO

This article describes a research on serious games to create awareness about risky situations in children of Rio de Janeiro. In recent years - specially in the summer of 2011 - heavy rains hit the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro, causing floods and landslides that killed hundreds of people and caused economic losses estimated at one billion dollars, which was the largest natural disaster in Brazil's history. This major event triggered a lot of actions based on Hyogo framework to prepare the population for emergencies, and to create a culture to deal with risk situation in children is a very important issue. In this research we invited children from 10 to 13 years, residents of the city of Rio de Janeiro, to use the educational game 'Stop Disasters', which was developed by the UN in order to build a safety culture related to emergency preparedness. To verify if the game really improve the awareness of risky situations, the experiment was conducted with two groups: experimental and control. The experimental group used the Stop Disaster game, while the control group did not. The experimental group answered a questionnaire before playing the game, and after that, answered another one with some of the questions that have been asked previously. They were also able to contribute with opinions they had after playing the game on issues about gameplay, the missions, and game scenarios. The control group answered the same questionnaires, but without the questions about the game.

The results show that serious games are able to develop a variety of key skills to deal of emergency situations in children, and that their use should be improved to create and develop a safety culture for emergencies.