The Flash Flood!

(This page is part of the Earth Arcade story – scroll down to find information on this activity, or go here for a run down of the Earth Arcade)

As you enter the Earth Arcade the first thing you notice is a row of gaming laptops all lit up in bright neon colours. The people at the laptops all look a little weird, each waving their heads around randomly whilst wearing some hi-tech looking goggles and clutching gaming controllers.


You watch them walk around a virtual river valley, seeing the rain fall, the river rise, and a flood burst its way across the valley. One of the people nearby removes their goggles and passes them to one of the helpers.

“That was epic!” they say with a giant grin on their face.

You know you have to have a go so you take a seat and put on the goggles. Oh wow! It’s like you’re really there, transported to this beautiful river valley out in the country. A voice tells you what is happening, describing the events you are witnessing. It’s amazing, you wish you could have another go but others are waiting and there’s more to see.

But what next?

Try more virtual reality.

Try something less hi-tech.

Leave the Earth Arcade.

I have no time for this, just show me a list.

Flash Flood! is a SeriousGeoGame designed for the Flooding from Intense Rainfall (FFIR) project, in turn funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). We wanted to have a short and engaging demonstration showing some of the real impacts of flash flooding and we chose to focus on how they can change landscapes (a research area called geomorphology).

Google Earth images of Thinhope Burn from before and after the 2007 flood. The white border marks the approximate area of the Flash Flood! game environment.

The 3D environment is built using real world data – surveys of a river called Thinhope Burn, before and after a flood which happened in 2007. The animation of the flash flood is inspired by computer modelling of the flooding. This allows people to get really close to our research into how floods can change rivers.

Partners – BetaJester Ltd, NERC FFIR, Dr David Milan, Dr Rob Thompson, Dr Matt Perks.

You can try a demo of Flash Flood!