Games and Films as Crisis Management Training Tools

July 6, 2011 -

Researcher Anita Lynn Furtner says that the best way to train for a crisis is to use films and video games. She said crisis management training needs a change and that it is time to do away with lectures and boring PowerPoint presentations and consider films and video games.

"You have a lecture, you have a PowerPoint and a knowledge check and, there, you are considered trained and certified. And, most likely, you only do this once a year," said Furtner. She wrote her dissertation at the University of Arizona about the potential use of films and video games for crisis management training. She earned her doctoral degree in rhetoric, composition and the teaching of English in May

"That's not what I call motivating or engaging, and it doesn't lead to any long-term recall," added Furtner.

These kinds of ideas shaped her dissertation, "Entertaining Crisis: What 21st Century Corporations Can Learn from the Rhetoric of Crisis in Film and Computer Games." Furtner has long been concerned with finding stronger training models to provide effective ways to help people retain the knowledge they need when a real crisis happens.

For her study, Furtner used three films: "Virus," "Apollo 13" and "2012." She also studied three games: Splinter Cell: Conviction, Gears of War 2 and Call of Duty 6: Modern Warfare 2.

"With popular film, you are mentally engaged in understanding the story and keeping in mind different scenes to understand the big picture," she said. "Even more so with video games, because you have an active role in designing the story, to a certain extent."

But in studying plot, narrative and metaphor, Furtner found that not all films and video games work well in training. Those with a strong narrative and deep storyline tend to be better than traditional training methods.

Furtner says that she plans a new study that she will modify to influence player behaviors. In the long run she hopes that her work will help lead to more integrated ways for agencies, companies and organizations to implement useful crisis management training.

"I want to help people to be able to say, 'I'm not going to react, I'm going to respond,'" Furtner said. "I think it's important to make a shift in the way we are teaching our employees so that they are able to remember this a week, a month, a year from now."

Source: UA News


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