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Everyone Panic! Floods!

Oh noes! Thank goodness I live at the top of a big hill, eh?

A new genre – flooding games. The jokes just write themselves, as a deluge of flooding games, er, um, flood the market. Or indeed not. But I think what we’ve proved here is that if you read the word “flood” too many times in a row, it starts to confuse and look like it should be pronounced “flude”. (I checked the correct phonetic spelling of “flute” so I could communicate this accurately – that would be “floot”. English is not easy).

FloodSim is, as the title implies, a simulation of flooding, in this case to “help families understand the UK’s risk of flooding, and the policy decisions needed to make sure the UK is protected against floods.” There are floods coming? Argh!

Helen Mirran's guest appearance is a surprise.

Environment Minister Phil Woolas (I want my MPs to be “Phillip”, not “Phil”) is all over this thing like a watery rash.

“The floods of 2007 show just how serious flooding can be, and I am glad to see that this project has been developed to enable people to have a greater understanding of the risk of flooding. A number of decisions need to be taken when we look at managing the risk of flooding, including our annual spend on flood defences, where and how we build new houses, and the emergency response procedures we have in place for times of flood. This game gives the game player the opportunity to make informed decisions about all of these policy areas.”

The game is utterly bonkers. First of all, just exactly how is putting all the pressure for policy decisions on me supposed to be of any help? Is this subtle propaganda to teach me that such decisions are no easy task, so I shouldn’t get cross with the government when my TV because a fishbowl? Nevermind that it’s completely loopy when you play it.

Scotland, you can relax.

Ignoring the advice of about thirty-seven different advisors who appeared, I exclusively focused my flood defenses on the South West of Britain (the bit that matters most, clearly). Approximately all of England, including the ultra-defended South West, went underwater within a year. A rather portly businessman informed me, “Despite your efforts, thousands of people have still been flooded.” Then he looked at the ground and shook his head, disgusted.

The following year I decided no further spending was necessary, but gave the go-ahead for unlimited house building on flood planes (that were apparently about ten foot deep by this point). I was congratulated on my increased spending and the successful results, and then immediately informed that everything was a disaster and there was no way out of it.

Isn't he lovely? I'm going to call him Roland. Oh, and Scotland, um, sorry.

Then yet another advisor popped up, sporting a rather splendid ginger moustache, and said, “Hello, I’m here to advise you about policies for the UK drainage system.” Party time! Trying to spend my way out of the soggy hole I had gotten the country into, I threw the last of my budget at overhauling the drainage. Once more I was congratulated on my policy decisions, and then immediately chastised for my policy decisions, and told that I needed to do a lot better next year. At which point the game ended.

Shockingly enough, the entire thing is sponsored by the Norwich Union, who obviously stand to gain from people becoming terrified that their house might fill up with rain at any moment. (Indeed, the loading graphic for the game is… a house slowly filling with water). I love that the entire game is predicated on the notion that instant flooding is guaranteed over the following year. (Although since it’s STILL incessantly pissing it down in August, I wouldn’t be too surprised).

Now I would like some games terrifying me about the risk of vermin infestation, meteor showers, and the inevitability of crabs and lobsters raising an army from the seas and wiping us out in a horrifying crustaceous battle, please. Meanwhile, see how you can do at FloodSim!

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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