Rehearsing Disaster: Understanding Earthquake Preparedness Behavior in an Interactive Environment.

Blythe Ballesteros ‘20, Elise Gilmore ‘20, Natalie Casson ‘20, Ela Pencl ’21, Sarah Wood ‘22, Annabel Paris ‘22, Lana Parezanin ‘23, Liz Safran (Department of Environmental Studies), Peter Drake (Department of Mathematical Sciences), Bryan Sebok (Department of Rhetoric and Media Studies), Erik Nilsen (Department of Psychology).

Lewis & Clark College

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  • The Pacific Northwest is expecting a major earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ). This study builds on the previous literature to examine whether video games may be an effective tool for promoting earthquake preparedness. This is being done through a series of experiments, each of which involves a custom-built earthquake-related video game. Experiment 1 (fall 2020) will compare the effects of two modes of learning (our video game vs. an internet searching exercise) on knowledge acquisition and motivation to prepare for an earthquake. The experiment 1 game, Cascadia 9.0, was developed this summer using the game development platform Unity. We also conducted two focus groups to help us finish the game, design the upcoming experiment, and plan for future games and studies. We recruited 18-29-year-old participants (n = 11) from the Portland metro area using social media platforms Reddit, Craigslist, and Nextdoor. The focus groups were conducted online using the web conferencing platform Zoom. The first group (n = 7) was shown a presentation about the expected impacts of a major earthquake followed by a pre-recorded game playthrough of the game. The second focus group (n = 4) was asked to cite information sources they would use to learn about natural disasters and they were shown anticipated impacts of a Cascadia M9.0 earthquake on the greater Portland area. Two post-experiment focus groups will invite experiment 1 participants to provide feedback. Future studies will explore themes of identification, cooperation, self-efficacy, personal responsibility, and the effects of social media on preparedness behaviors.