Earth Arcade @ Freedom Festival 2019

August 31st and September 1st, 11 am to 6 pm, Queen’s Gardens, Hull

We have some very exciting news! The Earth Arcade is coming to Hull’s Freedom Festival!

Freedom Festival is THE event in Hull. It all began in 2007 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, an act passed after decades of work by Hull-born independent MP, William Wilberforce. Since 2007 it has grown massively, and in 2018 the festival had over 130,000 visitors.

“Excellent arts and culture can change lives and communities, by transmitting fundamental human values and inspiring all ages to embrace and celebrate freedom. We’ve seen it. It may be no surprise then that our ambition is founded on the legacy of Hull-born freedom advocate, William Wilberforce” – Freedom Festival website.

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Chris demoing Humber in a Box at Freedom Festival 2015

SeriousGeoGames has been involved in three previous Freedom Festivals, starting in 2015 when we demoed Humber in a Box, and including 2016 when the virtual reality version of Flash Flood! was demoed to the public for the first time. With the Earth Arcade, we have the perfect opportunity to take things to the next level, and the Earth Arcade at Freedom Festival really will be something special.

The name Earth Arcade is meant to loosely evoke a sense of Arcadia – a mythical utopia where human society and the natural world live together in harmony. This is the future we hope for, the future we are striving to build, and we hope to inspire others to come with us on that journey. To create our mini-Arcadia we have teamed up with colleagues from the University’s School of the Arts to design the exhibit.

We will be exploring the impacts of the world’s most pressing environmental issues through our activities Flash Flood! Vol.2, Plastic Fishing, Top Trumps: Rivers, and small games on our Ipad stations. You will be able to find out how climate change and sea level rise will impact our city, Hull, and the wider Humber through our new and improved Rising Tide game on our big screen.

The forest

Freedom Festival will also see the debut of an exciting new activity space. The Forest is something a bit different to the rest of the Earth Arcade, and sci-comm in general. It is a quieter, reflective, and mindful space where people can sit and think about nature, with a small library of stories and ideas and crafts and workshops to inspire people to engage with nature more. We will be using theatrical and scenographic techniques to help people engage, such as interactive soundscapes.

Finally, we will be offering advice on how people can respond to the environmental issues explored, offering them the chance to sign up to becoming an Earth Arcade Champion by committing to making small changes in their own lives.

It is going to be brilliant and we hope to see you there!

Resilience – Development of a Card Game

I’ve been working on a prototype card game for SeriousGeoGames for a while now. The game, with the working title Resilience, sees players take control of a city and its surrounding area with the aim of staying in that job until the end of the game. The catch is there is another player with their own city also trying to reach that goal. With the ability to make events happen in each other’s cities, you each pose a threat to the other’s political survival.

Although I toyed with the idea of having multiple stresses to deal with, the game just got too unwieldy, so the focused down on flooding as the main hazard. Players can build defences, enact resilience measures, or implement things purely as they are popular – if they want to be aggressive, they can send a storm towards a rival city. Through playing the game, players will learn about the complexity of flood defence from physical, societal, and political perspectives.

360 time lapse of players trying an early version of Resilience at the EGU 18 Games Night.

The game is designed to be a deck builder, so rather than each having the same deck of cards players can choose a pile from their collection allowing them to try different strategies. I’m designing the game to have enough layers – through use of cards, dice, and tokens – that there will be numerous styles of play possible. The main goal of the design is for the game to be fun, with plenty of replay value, yet the deck building aspect adds in a further dimension – collectability.

I still have piles of Pokemon and Star Wars cards from when I was a kid, even though I never played either as a game. When I get free packs of cards in gaming magazines for games I will never play, I keep them. Especially the ‘shinies’. There is something tactile and attractive about a well-designed, crisp, high quality card, and this is something I want to tap into with Resilience.

My rubbish PowerPoint mock up (left), and Kelly’s design to use on the back of the cards (right). A big improvement!

Enter Kelly Stanford, Sci Artist. I’d been looking for an artist for a few months and seen some nice work, but no one seemed quite right for the game. Then I came across Kelly’s work on her Twitter and was blown away. She is a specialist in making science-based art and has worked on numerous public engagement projects, working in a range of styles from sculpture, hyper-realistic, and cartoon. She’s also a gamer and after a coffee meeting at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry it was clear she got what I trying to achieve.

I commissioned her at the beginning of the year to develop the designs, and Kelly has wasted no time producing great designs for the cards – nothing like my rubbish PowerPoint efforts! So far we have the awesome logo for the back of the cards, a card template, and some concepts for the card types.

My original card template (left), Kelly’s template design (middle), and Kelly’s concept sketches.

I’m hoping to try out the first full prototype combining game and art designs at the EGU Games Night on April 10th, and after that I’m still not sure where it will go. There are several options to look at for production and dissemination, such as getting funding for a limited run, crowdfunding, getting a commercial backer, or simply releasing the game in a PDF to print your own cards. The game is designed so that additional decks can be added to the initial deck to add further complexity and variety, and I plan on offering bespoke limited edition shiny cards for events and projects.

I’m really excited about this project. I think the game has the potential to not only be fun but really help with the communication of flood risk management and its complexities and challenges. There is nothing quite like a game for putting you in someone else’s shoes. Keep an eye on this blog and Kelly’s blog for further news about Resilience.

We’re bringing Flash Flood! to the @NHM_London for #OperationEarth 29-31 May 2018

We are super-super-super excited to tell you we will be bringing our Flash Flood! VR game to the Natural History Museum in London. We will be joining a series of other exhibits as part of the Museum’s half-term Operation Earth showcase, and we will be there from the 29th of May until the 31st of May, 11am to 4pm each day. To find out more about this event, click here.

In the last couple of years we have been at the Science Showcases for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) – Into the Blue and Unearthed. This year, NERC are doing something a little different, working with museums and science centres to bring their Operation Earth family science show to people up and down the country. To learn more about Operation Earth and to find an event near you, click here.

We are also very excited that we’ll be joined by our friends from the University of Reading, and the NERC-funded Flooding from Intense Rainfall project (FFIR) – the project for which Flash Flood! was designed. At the event you can play Flash Flood! and meet the scientists whose research inspired it, both from Reading but also the Energy and Environment Institute (EEI) at the University of Hull.

We look forward to meeting you there!

Image Credit: NERC

Our Games at NERC #UnEarthed2017 17-19 November 2017

Last year we took our Flash Flood! game to the NERC Science Showcase, Into the blue. We had an amazing time, and you guys seem to as well as we were voted as one of the most popular exhibits. Read about what we got up to here, and also check out our article in NERC’s magazine Planet Earth.

We are very excited therefore to be returning for this year’s NERC science showcase, UnEarthed, held at the Dynamic Earth centre in Edinburgh. You can find more details on their website – tickets for the public days are free.

The stand this year, Keeping Back the Floods, is organised by the Energy and Environment Institute, University of Hull. It features two of our popular Virtual Reality games – Flash Flood! and TideBox (formerly Humber in a Box) – and will let you get hands on with the cutting-edge of flood risk science and the latest in gaming technology.

 

 

Flash Flood! YouTube Now Online! #Isurvivedtheflashflood

We are very, very excited to be able to unleash our YouTube version of Flash Flood!

You can view this on a PC, but it’s best viewed using a phone or tablet where the motion tracking allows you to easily view the full 360 view. If you have a cardboard headset, such like our #ISurvivedTheFlashFlood VISRs, then hit the goggles icon on the video, stick you phone in and try the Flash Flood! VR experience yourself. It’s even better with headphones.

The #ISurvivedTheFlashFlood VISR VR Headsets – the ideal way to view Flash Flood! on YouTube

Do keep your eyes on our Twitter, Facebook and this blog – we hope to release more YouTube videos like this in the near future, as well as support to use this is the classroom.

If you want a copy of our full game version, it is now free to download on SourceForge.

Finally, thank you NERC for the funding, and thank you BetaJester for the development.

Grab your copy of Flash Flood! – Register as a SeriousGeoGamer

The goal of SeriousGeoGames is to explore the use of games, and gaming technology, to enhance the teaching, research and communication of earth sciences. As such, we don’t want to keep our games to ourselves, but rather want to share them as widely as possible.

To that end, we are inviting you to become a registered SeriousGeoGamer – simply contact us at seriousgeogames(@)gmail.com and provide us with the following details –

  • Your name
  • Your institution, school, company etc.
  • Your position
  • How you intend to use the applications

In return, we will send you a link from where you can download the software and guidance notes. (Please note, if you wish to use this on a network you will need to get permission to install 3rd-Party software)

By becoming a user, you agree to use it only for non-commercial activities, and we also want to hear from you about how it goes. Any stories or pictures we can share on our Twitter or Facebook Page are particularly welcome.

Living Manual

Next Stop #NERCIntoTheBlue – 25-29 October, Manchester

It’s just a little over two weeks until we’ll be heading to Manchester for the Into the Blue event, organised by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC are major funders of scientific research in the UK, and SeriousGeoGames will be at the event with the NERC-funded project Flash Flooding from Intense Rainfall (the FFIR project).

25-29 October 2016 –nerc-intothebluev2 The Runway Visitor Park, Manchester Airport – more information and tickets here.

 

 

 

 

The FFIR project aims to improve our ability to forecast flash flood events – this is currently difficult as the thunderstorms which typically cause them rapidly form, only cover small areas, and only last a short time. It is important as this type of flooding can be particularly devastating, and by its nature can occur rapidly with little warning.

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At Into the Blue we will be taking three (yes, three!) sets of kit to run virtual reality demonstrations of Flash Flood! – come and see us and explore the virtual river valley, observing just like a real environmental scientist. Witness the destruction that flash flooding can cause, and chat to the research scientists from the FFIR project.

More details about Flash Flood!, its development and the science behind, can be found on its section of the website, here.

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The event is great whatever age you are, but is especially great for school-aged children. It will feature over 40 exhibits of cutting-edge environmental science all under the wings of Concorde. There will also be the chance to win a tour of the FAAM Research Aircraft (Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurement).

FFIR Scientists at Into the Blue – 

Professor Tom Coulthard (Geomorphologist) – University of Hull (@Tom_Coulthard)

Dr Chris Skinner (Geomorphologist) – University of Hull (@CloudSkinner)

Dr Rob Thompson (Meteorologist) – University of Reading (@R0b1et)

Dr Matt Perks (Geomorphologist) – Newcastle University (@CatchmentSci)

David Flack (Meteorologist) – University of Reading (@MetBirder)

Chloe Morris (Geomorphologist) – University of Hull (@ChloeMorris_13)

Latest News – New Rift, Freedom Festival, BSG, Into the Blue, and Digital Awards

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for SeriousGeoGames. A few weeks ago we finally got hold of the brand new Oculus Rift and, thanks to the excellent BetaJester, we have Flash Flood! running in Virtual Reality – we’re biased, of course, but it is truly awesome!

The second bit of news is about your first chance to try it – we’re very happy to have been invited back to Hull’s premier arts and cultural festival, the Freedom Festival, as part of the University of Hull science exhibits in Queen’s Gardens. You will be able to try Flash Flood! VR during the day on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th September 2016. There will be lots of other great exhibits, and speakers for Soapbox Science.

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Chris demonstrating Humber in a Box at Freedom Festival 2015.

We immediately pack up the kit and get on a train to Plymouth for the annual meeting of the British Society for Geomorphology. Chris Skinner will be demonstrating the application and will also be presenting a talk on the science behind Flash Flood!.

Our next event will be the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) event, Into the Blue at the end of October. We’re really looking forward to this and will hopefully have several sets of kit running Flash Flood! underneath the wings of a Concorde – there will be numerous scientists from the Flash Flooding from Intense Rainfall project on hand to talk about their research (as well as the other 47 exhibits and tours of a research aircraft) – we will post more details soon!

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#NERCIntoTheBlue – A Science Festival under the wings of Concorde!

Finally, but by no means least, we are very pleased to say we have been shortlisted for a Hull and East Yorkshire Digital Award in the Best Use of Technology within Education category. Chris Skinner, Chloe Morris and John van Rij have recorded a small piece for the awards ceremony and we hope to show you that in the near future.

Phew! I think you’re up to date now.

 

Flash Flood! Desktop – Official Launch March 10th 2016

We are very happy to announce we will be launching Flash Flood! Desktop officially on March 10th 2016, at the Early Career Researchers meeting of the NERC-funded Flash Flooding from Intense Rainfall (FFIR) project.

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Flash Flood! was designed to act as an outreach tool for the NERC-FFIR project, and was funded by the project’s Public Engagement fund.

The application places a user inside a virtual river valley as it experiences a catastrophic flash flood. The flood causes massive changes to the geomorphology of the river through processes of erosion and deposition, changing the shape of the river, stripping out plants and trees, and even moving boulders. This is all based on a real event that happened in 2007 on a small river in the uplands of the North of England.

The Flash Flood! virtual valley (left) and Thinhope Burn on which it is based (right)

The Flash Flood! valley is built using data collected by geomorphologists (scientists who seek to understand the changing shapes of the planet’s surface) in the field, both before and after the actual flash flood event, and the animation of the flooding is based on results of computer modelling.

It is expected in the Summer of 2016 that Flash Flood! VR will be available once the latest Oculus Rift and Oculus-Ready PCs have been shipped.

Copies of the software can be made available freely by registering as a user – do this by emailing the SeriousGeoGames (at gmail dot com) Gmail account. We will be progressively adding supporting materials and class guides alongside the software.

Flash Flood! Our new project with @BetaJesterLtd #MadewithUnity

We are pleased to announce that we have started working with developers from BetaJester on our latest project, Flash Flood!

Flash Flood! is being produced as part of the Flash Flooding from Intense Rainfall (FFIR) research programme, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and is designed to highlight the destructive power of flash floods. This work has taken particular significance in light of the recent flooding in the UK over December.

Flash Flood! will use the latest Oculus Rift headsets, only available on pre-order this week, and is built using the Unity-3D gaming engine. The virtual reality experience will allow you to explore a pristine river valley, and soak up the sun by its pleasant and gentle stream. This changes with the weather, as an intense convective storm darkens the skies and heavy rainfall falls on the upper headlands of the valley. This triggers landslides, cascading debris into the river, trapping flood water before it bursts down the river, swelling the gentle stream into a raging torrent.

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The river valley before  the storm

The river flow, full of stones, rocks, trees and other debris strips the river banks of its plants, and changes the nature of the river and its valley. After surviving the storm, you can then explore the river valley once more and see for yourself the changes it underwent in just a few hours of flooding.

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The river valley after the storm (trees to be added)

The images in this post are very early development screenshots and we think they look great. They are built from data collected in the field and based on an actual flash flood event – we’ll be updating our website shortly to give more details on this.

We’re really excited about Flash Flood! and hope to be bringing to an event near you soon!