Sunday, November 9, 2008

When designers anticipate the next Big One
Posted by: Mark Vanderbeeken

A few weeks Core77 featured After Shock, the world's first massively collaborative disaster simulation, about a major earthquake affecting much of Southern California.

It turns out - as one could have expected - that there is quite a lot behind this unique serious game. It is actually part of a larger design initiative The Los Angeles Earthquake: Get Ready, led by Designmatters at Art Center College of Design, that has allowed them "to investigate the contributing role of design in disaster mitigation and public awareness".

Mariana Amatullo, (vice president and director of Designmatters at the Art Center College of Design), just wrote a long article on Design21 outlining the project's philosophy and ambition, that is recommended reading for anyone interested in serious games.

In a recent email to me, she said: "Our hope [...] is that the paradigms for communication created by this project can test the efficacy of different communications approaches in a contemporary media environment, and provide a blueprint for vitally needed mitigation efforts elsewhere in the world."

The project is, in my opinion, also particularly strong and commendable, because of the thoroughness with which it has been prepared, and the sense of civic engagement that drives the people behind it.

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