July 30, 2011 9:00 PM | Matthew Hawkins
It's not difficult finding information that pertains to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster; the real trick is making sense of it all. One solution is to interact with a simulator, like Chris Crawford's SCRAM. Produced in 1981 for the Atari 400/800 as a reaction to the Three Mile Island accident, Joel Goodwin hoped SCRAM would offer insight into what happened in Japan not too long ago.
Or so it was hoped. In the end, Goodwin concluded that he learned more from the massive instruction manual that was required reading beforehand than the game itself. Turns out, SCRAM overwhelms the player with so many problems that solutions came down to hitting a bunch of switches and being lucky, as opposed to pure thoughtful analysis.
Plus it just wasn't any fun, something that even the game's creator himsef would later admit in his book, Chris Crawford on Game Design. He notes that if he had the chance to do it over, there would be some significant changes. On a somewhat related note, Crawford recently began work on a remake of Balance of the Planet, another educational sim game of his, which deals with the earth's entire ecosystem this time.
While it won't be any more fun to play than SCRAM, Crawford does promise the most enjoyable method for learning such complex environmental issues. One can follow progress here.