BBC News reports
that researchers in Durham, England, have created a fire drill simulation using Valve's Source Engine. The program allows researchers to observe how students and employees at Durham University react during a simulated fire, and will be used in the future to train users in fire escape procedures.
Through modifications of the same engine used to power popular retail titles like Half-Life 2
, Durham designers recreated the layout of the university's Computer Science Department. Initial tests challenged a group of gamers and a group of non-gamers to escape from a fire within the familiar setting.
BBC News reports that non-gamers tended to treat the simulation more seriously than the gamer group. Durham University's Dr. Shamus Smith reports that some gamers would run through burning doors within the simulation, rather than look for alternate exits.
Durham's research team says that the simulation helped testers with evacuation routines, and could be expanded in the future to identify fire hazards within a building's layout.