By Grey Lupindo
Your car is stuck in the snow, and your cell phone is dead. Now what do you do? You can find the answer and information on avoiding other winter hazards at the Winter Safety Game, located at Bailey (117,115,23). This is an interactive game that educates you about the dangers of winter weather while you try to get to your grandma’s 75th birthday party.
The Winter Safety Game is a project created by the National eXtension Initiative, which is an Internet-based educational network that provides objective, science-based information through the internet. The information comes from universities and partners nationwide. Its web site is www.extension.org.
When you first arrive at the game, you find yourself standing next to a car stuck in the snow. Eerie heartbeats and the desolate landscape set the tone of the game immediately. But in order for you to actually play the game, you must find a green sewer pipe and descend into the information chamber.
The brightly lit information center has large, clear signs that tell the object of the game and how to play. There’s a section for new residents who might need more help, too. Experienced residents can skip that part and go quickly to get a map and a HUD.
The storyline is that it’s your grandma's 75th birthday, and you are the host/hostess. You are planning to drive to the party, but a blizzard is in the forecast. To further complicate things, you have to pick up your cousin, Bob, as well as Grandma. You also have a roommate and a barn full of animals to tend before you can leave. As you prepare for the storm, the HUD keeps track of your points. If you collect enough points, you'll not only live, you'll get a reward.
Many of the items are fun, like a lantern and a candy bar. But others, like the Winter Safety Book, are filled with valuable information. As you progress through the game, information signs and quiz questions allow you to gain points while checking on your winter safety knowledge.
A “To Do list” from your roommate is actually a valuable list of ways to prepare for severe weather. One challenge is to thaw the frozen pipes. If you’ve never had to do this in RL, you may be surprised at how it is done.
There is a lot of valuable information about emergency kits, “go bags”, and a free Winter Survival app for your cell phone. Some of the items are easy to find, but not all of them. I collected a lot of “tokens”, which were helpful, but my HUD wasn’t registering any points. I wasn’t sure if there was a flaw in the system or if I really wasn’t doing enough things correctly to earn points.
After the house and barn chores are completed, you are ready to rez a car and head to grandma’s house. But the notecard tells you to drive to the gas station and have the car winterized first, which I did. However, Susie the mechanic said, “If you're planning to go very far in this storm, you probably should get some snow tires.” I asked how much they cost, and I was told that was the wrong response.
Another SL traveler, Tainith Resident, was following after me and pulled into the garage behind me. There really was only room for one car at a time. Tainith and I managed to get our cars stuck in the garage for a bit.
After I got out of the garage, I went to the General Store. Tainith came in while I was still hunting for my supplies. I was curious as to whether she was finding more items than me, but I didn’t want to ask.
Finally I was on the road again, but not for long. I had to stop at the ice fishing shanty to pick up a trout for Grandma. It was shortly after this point that I made my first mistake. I forgot to stop for cousin Bob.
There is a map that comes with the HUD, but I didn’t have room on my screen for the HUD, map, notecard, etc. I decided I didn’t need the map. Big mistake. I missed the turn-off to Cousin Bob’s house and got stuck in the snow. After a lot of backing up and going forward, I managed to turn the car around and went to retrieve Bob.
It was a good thing I did, because I saved Cousin Bob’s life. I won’t tell you how I did it because that might spoil that challenge. Bob was grateful, I’m sure, but my HUD didn’t register any points earned. By this time I was over half-way through the game, too. I thought I should have gotten points for that, but I decided to continue on to Grandma’s house.
I went back up the mountain road---and got stuck again. Tainith Resident also got stuck, but that was little consolation for me. She got turned around first, and I never saw her again. I finally got turned around and went down the mountain, but I couldn’t find the road I needed. When I came back up the mountain, I got stuck in nearly same spot as before. By this time it was late and I needed to leave SL.
I learned a lot about winter hazards, and I ended up earning 30 tokens. I plan to return to try again, but this time I’ll buy those snow tires and remember cousin Bob.