Facilitating Earthquake Preparedness at an Individual Level Through Immersive Virtual Reality Gaming

2023 – 2026


This research will demonstrate that even personal experience of an earthquake, which is considered the most influential factor of earthquake preparedness by numerous authors both domestically and internationally may not lead to successful earthquake preparedness if the intensity of the experience did not reach a certain threshold.

One of the main assumptions made by disaster risk reduction (DRR) researchers and DRR agencies is that it is difficult to manipulate earthquake risk perception and almost impossible to emulate personal experience of an earthquake withing a mass education campaign. Therefore, those campaigns are built around the factors of influence that are considered possible to manipulate.

There are some exceptions to this statement existing in the form of unique, sophisticated, and expensive hardware-based experiences that exist in small numbers. Due to the uniqueness of these experiences, it is hard to consider them a suitable tool for public education campaigns.

Building on preliminary work done in this area it is proposed in this PhD research to further develop and evaluate an effective and engaging immersive virtual reality gaming intervention, simulating a damaging earthquake, which promotes constructive cognitions related to earthquake preparedness.

It is proposed to validate the appropriateness of the theoretical framework predicting protective (hazard adjustment) behaviour in the context of the research using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM). This study will conduct systematic comparisons of the major expectancy-valence (EV) models used in the context of DRR to identify their critical differences and predictive power in the context of household earthquake preparation.

The efficacy of the game will then be evaluated within the identified theoretical framework predicting protective behaviour, incorporating user feedback, user observations and various data points. A longitudinal study is offered to research the potential benefits of the immersive virtual reality gaming intervention in motivating people to prepare for earthquakes.


This study received funding from the University of Canterbury as part of the Applied Immersive Gaming Initiative (AIGI).

Project Contact

Assoc. Prof Heide Lukosch, HIT Lab NZ, University of Canterbury

Supervisory Team