You look at your watch and you are amazed that you seemed to have been transporting back to a much simpler time – 2015. The rest of the Earth Arcade dissolves around you, leaving you standing in a large tent outside on a gloriously sunny day. Before you is a table with a single computer on it, a bulky, powerful looking desktop.
You are invited by someone in a garish Hawaiian shirt to try a Virtual Reality headset on. You are unsure about their fashion choices but they seem friendly enough so you accept and put the headset on. Inside, you find yourself in what looks like a museum room.
The person in the Hawaiian shirt tells you that the 3D model you can see on the table in front of you is a scale model of the Humber Estuary and you watch it for a while seeing the tides flood and ebb across it. You find you have the power to raise the sea level – first just a metre but nothing seems to happen, so you raise it more, a few metres and soon the defences are overtopped by the water. You rise it by 74 metres, all the water on the planet and the whole table is covered in water.
You pass the headset back. What now?
Humber in a Box was our very first SeriousGeoGame. It featured a world-first merging of a research-grade hydraulic model (for predicted water flows) with a 3D gaming-engine when we brought together CAESAR-Lisflood with UNITY-3D. The game shows the Humber Estuary, as a miniature 3D model on a table, and the tides ebbing and flowing in and out.
We wanted to share the impacts that sea level rise might have on flooding, so users could rise the base level of sea level, 1 metre at a time, and the model responded dynamically. There were no pre-set outcomes in the game!
Humber in a Box was built using an older version of the Oculus Rift and can no longer be run, however we plan to bring it back one day as TideBox.
Partners – SEED Software, Environment Agency.
You can see a demo of Humber in a Box.