Lately, we've been hearing a lot about games and their meaning. Can games be art? Can games be educational? Are they merely escapist? Regardless of the manner in which these matters are debated, and the examples cited, it really comes down to one answer to all these questions:
It depends on the game.
But what if games could be used to help mitigate natural disasters?
What is GameSave?
GameSave is a hack-a-thon style event that takes place over the course of five weeks, during which multiple teams of game developers and emergency relief professionals will each create a complete game concept and working demo aimed at an aspect of disaster relief.
Teams will meet up for an intensive hack-a-thon session in Seattle, Washington, where they will meet with disaster relief personnel for vital information, as well as have sequestered time for the bulk of the build. When the hack-a-thon is up, teams will return to their homes and continue to collaborate and polish their concept for submission. Participation is possible even if travel is not, because all location-specific happenings and presentations will be livestreamed.
Additionally, travel scholarships will become increasingly available to qualified participants as sponsorship allows.
Each concept/demo will be judged by a panel of experts in the fields of game design and emergency management.
Why should I help?
The real question is, "Why not?"
The past few years and recent natural disasters have shown us that despite our technological and social achievements, we remain at the mercy of mother nature. Earthquakes and tsunamis are devastating, and they are something over which we have no control whatsoever.
Japan was probably more prepared for the recent earthquake and its aftermath than any other part of the world. The government established geological research initiatives as far back as the 1800s, and building codes are thorough yet rigorous, yet the recent earthquake managed to still cause tragic loss of life and massive structural damage.
Imagine that magnitude of destruction if such a thing were to happen along the west coast of the United States, knowing that this region of the world is far less prepared in terms of both emergency management and foresight in architectural codes. Then consider that historically, there is a shifting along the Cascadia Subduction Zone every 240-250 years, capable of producing a "megaquake" of magnitudes in excess of 9.2. The last one was in 1700. We are overdue and unprepared.
So how can I be of help?
For all this to work out, GameSave needs help from the public and as much awareness as it can get. For more details, please see the FAQ. Inquiries towards general donations can be directed to the main site, and are tax deductible through School Factory. GameSave also has a Kickstarter to help fund the exhibition portion of the event.
If you're interested, don't hesitate to drop by.