Serious gaming for fire fighters

| Michaela Nesvarova

‘Fire fighters often have to deal with crises. They have to communicate with the local government, police or hospitals and this comes with many difficult decisions. The game should therefore help them prepare for such crisis management,’ UT researcher Mariët Theune describes a serious gaming application that is to be developed within the Data2Game project.

Data2Game is a serious gaming project that includes the University of Twente, Thales/T-Xchange, the Tilburg University and the Twente fire brigade (Brandweer Twente). Its main goal is to develop games that automatically adapt to individual players, making game based learning more effective.

Tested by real users

‘We are developing the “firemen game”, but it is only one of the applications that could benefit from the results of this research project,’ continues Mariët Theune, researcher from the HMI group and one of the UT scientists involved in the Data2Game. ‘It will allow us to test our findings, because we don’t want this research to be only a theoretical exercise, we want it to fulfill a real need of real users.’

Firemen from the Twente fire brigade have such a need. ‘Crisis management is changing now, which also changes demands on fire fighters. This game should help train their decision-making skills and help them be prepared. The local firemen will be involved in the development and test new versions of the game at least once a year,’ explains Theune.

‘Mayor game’

The resulting application will have the form of a 2D computer game, through which players can learn how to make decisions when confronted with dilemmas and conflicting advice from various sources. ‘The basis for this game will be an existing “Mayor game” developed by T-Xchange. This game allows you to play the role of a mayor and make decisions based on suggestions from many advisors,’ says Theune. ‘Our starting point is to make a version of this game focused on fire fighters.’

The research for this project will be conducted by three PhD candidates, two of them based at the UT and one based at the Tilburg University. ‘We are still searching for the PhDs,’ adds Theune. ‘One of them will do research on text generation – how to make texts more dynamic and adapt to specific users –, while the second PhD at the UT will focus on measuring the learning effect, finding out if this approach helps the players to learn more effectively.’