Inside the Haiti Earthquake is a web-based first-person simulation based on documentary footage from Haiti and real-life decision scenarios. The footage used to create the simulation was collected for a documentary video series about the Red Cross’s relief efforts, called “Inside Disaster1.”It allows users to experience the aftermath of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake from different perspectives and was created by PTV Productions as an online companion to the Inside Disaster Haiti documentary 2.

Below is a detailed analysis of this game roughly following Brian Winn's3 Design/Play/Experience framework, including:


Inside the Haiti Earthquake is a web-based simulation that allows users to experience the quake’s aftermath from the point of view of an aid worker, survivor, or journalist.

The basic intended learning outcomes include:

1. Challenging assumptions about relief work in disaster situations4
2. Letting people know the real disaster situations aftermath of the earthquake
3. Learning about the decisions made by survivors, aid workers, and journalists in a crisis by experiencing. Getting the knowledge need to be known as aid workers, etc in this kind of situation.
4. Recruiting aid workers


In Inside the Haiti Earthquake, you can choose to play as an aid worker, survivor, or journalist to experience the story aftermath of Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake. You can experience the stories from different perspectives, but the stories behind these three roles are interdependent to a certain degree.

When you play as a survivor,the story starts immediately after the earthquake. You are standing in the ruined neighborhood, and see your neighbor Magalie who lost her three children in the earthquake. You also lost everything you owned, and are now hungry, thirsty and your leg was injured. What can you do now? There are several options for you to choose from, you can either seek for help in the center of the town, try to dig through the rubble for your valuable, or doing nothing just wait for help. Based on your choices you will see a number of different aspects of a post-earthquake Haiti. You may encounter rescue teams, see a woman saved from a collapsed building, or get help from the Red Cross in the relief camp for your injured leg. Depending on your choices you can witness the chaos and riot at the aid distribution place, try to get a job from Red Cross or US military and so on. You learned that since you survived in the earthquake, you have to seek for help and keep promise.

If you choose to play as the journalist, the story will start 24 hours after the earthquake. You land in Haiti, to look for true stories in the aftermath of the earthquake. Your mission is to create a 2 minutes feature story on the earthquake for a major network. At first, you make your way to the Canadian embassy, and join the other journalists and relief workers, and may find a vehicle and start to shoot the stories. You can be confronted with a clip of a confusing scene at an aid distribution point where you have to decide how you will narrate this scene in the video you are supposed to produce for television broadcast. Then you get to see the result, the video footage that you produced through the decisions you made, and you get feedback via “text message” from your producer. But you are required to find one strong angle and perspective of the story to report. The stunning footage you get and the tricky decision-points make the requirement of your producer hard to research. It shows the reality of the chaos in Haiti after the earthquake, and also the fact that there are no easy solutions to the people in this kind of situation.1

When you play as an aid worker, the story begins when you arrive in Port-au-Prince ahead of your shipment, you need to make decision such as when to unload your shipment and how to assess and distribute your shipment. The decisions are hard to make and there are many difficulties that need to be solved. An example of these hard decisions is when you see people in need. You may choose to start to distribute to the needy on the street right away, but that will lead to a chaos and riot. You will also get information from the text message sent by Mission of Mercy or UNICEF. You have to choose from whether remove the formula which may cause children sickness when children drink formula mixed with dirty water, or letting people know the efforts that aids works have made. You need to choose the right things to do. You will learn that taking the extra time to organize a distribution is a better solution for this harsh situation. Because in this way, the most vulnerable parts are served first, and this is more humane and efficient than dumpling the aid into the hands of desperate people.

The story supports the intended learning because the stories of the people of Haiti is exactly what the relief workers want players to learn about. They want players to have a better idea of what the Haitian People are going through so that they are able to sympathize more with their situation and possibly lend support either through volunteering or donating.


It is written on the web that Inside the Haiti Earthquake is not a game. Nobody is keeping score. By playing the role of an aid worker, journalist and survivor, you will be given the opportunity to commit to various strategies, and experience their consequences. The process of playing this simulation is similar to a choose-your-own-adventure.

The gameplay of Inside the Haiti Earthquake is really simple. You will be facing a series of choices. You just need to point and click to make choices. The required decision-makings are based on the real-life scenarios. And your choice will lead to different consequences. You can go back and redo your choice after exploring the consequences. The real-world short documentary videos will be shown as the consequences of your decision.

You can choose to play one of the three roles, and after finishing playing, you can choose to play as this role again, or you can choose another role to experience a different story.

The documentary footage from Haiti is visually striking and shows real disaster situations that aid workers, journalists and survivors are facing. The choices are hard to make. For example, when you play as an aid worker, you see desperate people ask for help, and can choose to distribute your goods right away, but this will lead to chaos and riots. And if you play as a journalist, you may face many confusing situations and have to make tough decisions about how to portray the disaster and relief efforts. These clips reveal the reality of the chaos in Haiti after the earthquake and that there are no easy solutions to the problems.

The gameplay supports learning by being as removed and in the background as possible. There is very little gameplay aside from making choices that it doesn’t take away from the learning much at all. Since the game is really about telling a story they made sure not to include pointless scores, or tacked on mini-games. This ensures that players will focus on the struggles of the characters they are player and Haitian people as a whole.

User Experience

The User interface is very simple, but effective. While videos are playing you can pause and move forward using the video player bar at the bottom. In the top left corner there is a home button to bring you back to the game home page. In the top right corner there are options to toggle sound on and off, to go into full screen mode, and an information button. The only other real way the player interfaces is through selecting choices which are clearly defined. Players are also able to backtrack there choices by hitting the back arrows under the choices.

At times videos did not load and restarting was necessary. At this point in time it was necessary to skip through all videos to catch back up to where I had been. This was unfortunate, but rarely happened and was never a major inconvenience.


“Inside the Haiti Earthquake" is web based game. It is integrated on a website dedicated to the Haiti earthquake, which has numerous other related resources such as documentary’s and articles about disaster relief. Having the game available as a web browser game was a good decision because it makes it as widely available as it can be. By integrating it to the website players are also like to see more than just the game and possibly see other information of the website. We would not have made any changes to the choices they made for the game. Getting the game out to as many people as possible is important and a web based game is best for that. Since the game is relatively simple and really just a series of videos broken up by player choices there is no need for more advanced technology.


There are a number of informal assessments in the game. In all three sections it is possible to make decisions that will essentially cause you to fail the game. In the Survivor section some decisions will lead to negative outcomes where your characters and other people may be injured. One thing to be noted with the Survivor sections “assessment” is that it goes out of its way to note that it is not the survivor’s fault, thought they could have made better decisions. In the journalist section if you choose an angle for your story to soon you will fail when you don’t get footage related to your story. The section will end with you being replaced and told by the narrator why you failed. For the relief aid worker section there you get assessed on the decisions made for distributing relief. If you choose to try and give out relief without planning and proper distribution you will see a negative result where people get hurt and you get reprimanded. If you wait and properly distribute relief you will see a successful outcome where survivors get the aid they need.

This minor assessment fits the theme and message that they were trying to get across. Like they say before the game begins, this is not really a game. If they had a more formal assessment some of their message might be diminished and it might not have as powerful an effect on players. The informal nature of the assessment just helps players understand how the situation should be handled.


Inside the Haiti earthquake tells an incredible story of the difficulties faced by the survivors of the Haiti earthquake, and by those trying to aid them after the disaster. While it definitely hovers the line of what may be considered a game, it uses videos to tell an incredible story through player choices. It hopes to show what really happens after an earthquake such as the one that happened in Haiti and inspire people to join in the relief effort.


1. Do you think it is good to use real-life footage to make serious game?
2. Do you think this pushes the limitations of what a game is?
3. Is there any other way this game could be made to get across the same message?
4. Do you think it is a good way for recruiting aid workers?


  1. Kirchner, L. (2010, November 11). Inside the Haiti Earthquake: A Simulation.from
  2. Inside the Haiti Earthquake. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2015, from
  3. Winn, Brian. The Design, Play and Experience Framework. In R. Ferdig (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2009, pp. 388-401.
  4. Inside the Haiti earthquake. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2015, from