The world is a scary place. Disease, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, famines, war. There are just so many ways your life could be suddenly turned upside down in ways you could never expect.
Fortunately, in the day and age of the internet, we have access to the single largest source of information in history. So whether you’re looking for a way to educate your children or yourself, there are games out there to make learning easy -- and that also means learning how to survive. Really.
Don't believe me? Well, here are four games you can play right now that will teach you real-world survival skills -- without having to spend a week in the bush with Bear Grylls. Let's take a look.
A free to play online game, Disaster Master follows a group of kids who are apparently hated by God himself. Why? Because they find themselves in pretty much every disaster scenario he -- or any other omnipotent power -- could throw at you.
The game acts out a story, similar to a comic book, and periodically, you must click an option for what you think the group should do. What do you pack when evacuating? Only the essentials. Why are you leaving the lights on in the cabin? So they can be seen through the smoke billowing about outside. Where should you do during a tornado at school? A basement or narrow hallway.
Each scenario asks you how you think the situation should be handled via multiple choice, then tracks how well you do throughout the game. Your score is tallied at the end to keep track of how well you do.
Just read carefully. You're given a one word code at the end of each level and need to type it in the next window to move onto the next scenario. So, not only does Disaster Master teach you survival skills, it teaches you patience and observation skills, too.
Developed in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Disaster Hero is a free online game meant to help educate children and parents on what to do before, during, and after particular disasters.
The gameplay itself consists of various minigames that range from a Bubble Bobble-esque arcade game to dodging airborne debris as you fly straight ahead, while certain survival questions pop up periodically. Throughout the game, you battle against four disaster-incarnate characters named Tectonic (earthquakes), Tempest (hurricanes), Whirlwind (tornadoes), and Dr. Deluge (floods).
Each nefarious villain you battle covers one subject specific to their character. And each posits questions like "What to do if trapped during an earthquake?", "Where do you take shelter during a storm?", "What should you have in an emergency supply kit?", and "How do you attract the attention of first responders?"
Overall, Disaster Hero is a game that teaches you survival skills and critical thinking in a fun, engaging environment.
A free flash game playable in-browser, Stop Disasters looks a lot like a Civilization game, except you're always playing the disaster mode from Sim City. A strategy game at heart, Stop Disasters gives you a budget to spend on your community. Your job? Use that budget to survive whatever disaster comes your way.
This game differs from the previous two entries on this list because it play from a more mature, more macro perspective. It teaches adults what a group of people need to survive, as well as what they should do and where they should go in a disaster scenario.
Given your city budget, you decide what buildings to build and reinforce, what training your people should learn, and whether you should construct items such as weather warning systems or evacuation signs.
The game gets very complicated quickly, leaving you to figure it out as you go. You constantly monitor your population and how many of citizens are housed, unhoused, and sheltered, while also keeping track of your available housing and the chance of a disaster striking.
Ultimately, Stop Disasters teaches you how to micromanage disaster scenarios on a macro scale.
Yes, I know, this is a sudden jump. The last three games are for education and this one is a gory survival horror shooter. But stick with me. Let’s ignore the horror part and focus on the survival.
Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland swarmed with flesh-eating zombies, players are forced to scavenge for supplies to stay alive. I don’t mean just finding weapons and ammo to kill our way out of trouble. You need food, water, and shelter; the three basics of survival.
Some food, like meat, needs to be cooked before consuming or you’ll become ill. Water needs to be purified, either with tablets or by boiling -- unless, of course, you want dysentery. Getting too cold gives you hypothermia, and getting too hot heat stroke.
All of which need to be treated in realistic ways. You can’t just down endless amounts of food and water to heal. While you do regulate thirst and hunger to remain healthy (especially when you've gotten sick), you actually need to regulate your body temperature by taking shelter and either removing or adding clothing.
All of these things are very real issues you must contend with in an IRL survival situation, and facing them here can give you great insight on how to prepare for an emergency whenever it may happen.
Hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, earthquakes, zombies. Now you know how to survive them all. If you ever find yourself facing down Mother Nature or endless hordes of the undead in real life, the skills taught in these games may very well save your life.
Good luck out there. It's a dangerous world we live in.