Researchers find yet another good use for violent video games: fire safety

If you ever find yourself in a burning building, you might want to stay close to those in the building who are the biggest gamers.

Researchers in England say that the underlying software code from violent computer games like Half-Life and Doom can be repurposed to help people get out of burning buildings in real life.

The Durham University researchers saythat creating a 3D model of a real building and fire evacuation options is a lot easier to do with code from first-person shooter games than it is using virtual reality software kits.

The researchers have published their findings in Fire Safety Journal.

"Although virtual environment toolkits are available, they usually only provide a subset of the tools needed to build complete virtual worlds. Although you can create fire and smoke for example, it is not very straightforward,” lead author Shamus Smith from Durham University's Computer Science department says in a statement. "In order to include these features using toolkits, it often requires additional programming skills and a substantial time investment on the part of the developer. By using readily available computer games, these features can be very easily simulated and are obviously vital in creating a virtual fire evacuation scenario.”

In tests that used the Durham University Computer Science department building as its model and source code from the game Half-Life 2, the researchers found that those with gaming experience found using video game-inspired fire safety guides more useful than others.

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