DHS, Army developing video game to train teachers to survive school shootings

The Department of Homeland Security and the Army have teamed up to develop a virtual reality video game that simulates a school shooting from multiple points of view, Gizmodo reported Friday.

The game allows users to experience a school shooting simulation from three points of view, including teachers, first responders and the shooter.

Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment (EDGE) is a virtual reality program funded by the government that has, in the past, trained police departments and firefighters for similar shooting situations using virtual reality (VR) technology. This is the first time the technology will be developed specifically for teachers.

ADVERTISEMENT

Teachers learn in the game about different scenarios for school shootings and how to best protect students in different situations. The game reportedly includes audio of gunshots, panicked children, and other sounds meant to resemble real-life situations such as the Virginia Tech massacre and the Sandy Hook shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Developers reported they listened to dispatch calls from those two shootings to incorporate as much realism as possible in the simulation.

“The more experience you have, the better your chances of survival are,” EDGE chief engineer Tamara Griffith told Gizmodo. “So this allows you to practice and have multiple experiences [and] know what works and what doesn’t work.”

“With teachers, they did not self-select into a role where they expect to have bullets flying near them. Unfortunately, it’s becoming a reality,” she added. “And so we want to give them that chance to understand what options are available to them and what might work well for them.”

Fifteen people were killed in nine school shootings in 2017. The last shooting at a school occurred on Dec. 7, in Aztec, New Mexico, when a 21-year-old former student shot and killed two students at his old high school before killing himself.