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VR Game to Teach Teachers How to Handle School Shootings

by Dylan Siegler

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Enhanced Dynamic Geo-Social Environment, or EDGE for short, is a VR game created by the US Army and Homeland Security that was originally intended to train emergency responders, such as police and fire fighters, in realistic simulations. Recently, however, it was revealed that the game will be getting an update soon which will include a school shooting scenario, intended to train teachers on how to respond in such a situation.

Gun violence is a huge problem in the United States, with 2017 alone seeing over 300 shootings across the country, including the Sutherland Springs and Las Vegas massacres. According to a new video by Gizmodo, nearly a fourth of mass shootings in the U.S. have occurred in schools, which has prompted the creation of a new update for EDGE.

In the update, there are three playable rolls: teacher, shooter and officer. The shooter attempts to break into the school and indiscriminately kill as many people as possible while the officer tries to subdue the shooter. Meanwhile, the teacher must give orders to the kids and take actions to prevent as many casualties as possible. The teacher can perform such actions as locking and barricading doors and instructing students to line up against a wall or stay away from windows. Teachers may be distracted, however, by the sounds of gunshots or crying children, or by a child who panics and decides to run off in a random direction.

While making this VR re-creation of school shooting scenarios, the EDGE engineering team talked to a parent whose child was killed during the Sandy Hook shooting, as well as listening to audio dispatches from the Virginia Tech shooting, to create as realistic a simulation as possible. The theory is that, after being trained on how to react by playing the game, teachers will be better prepared to handle a school shooting should one occur in their school. This school shooting update is expected to become available this spring.

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