Department of Homeland Security Spends $286K on a Bad Video GameS

Backed by a Department of Homeland Security grant, The Day The Earth Shook is meant to be a video game that teaches children about surviving an earthquake, but it's more likely to educate them about the dangers of bad game design.

In the free PC and Mac game, players are meant to help Allen and Majel Irwin survive an earthquake by building a survival kit, finding all the safe and unsafe areas of their home, and learning to protect themselves!

The game opens with an alien hovering down out of a blue sky to a pencil-necked child standing in front of a blocky house. The alien pops a pair of special glasses on the kid's head and tells him he needs to prepare for an earthquake.

First you have to wander your home looking for items to fill an earthquake preparedness kit, next you spot dangerous places to stand in an earthquake, and then you find safe places to go if a quake hits.

The downloadable game is part of the State of Illinois' plans to prepare their residents for a quake triggered by the New Madrid fault line. If a level 7 or 8 quake were to hit the area it could impact 15 million people, according to the website.

As part of the "Great Central U.S. Shakeout" the state received a $286,000 gran to create and put the earthquake game online. The money went to the University of Illinois's visualization lab which created the game with the help of scientists from the University of Illinois Champaign at the National Center for Supercomputing applications.

Yes, someone, somewhere applied supercomputing to this game.

The Day the Earth Shook [State of Illinois IEMA, via ABC]