back to article Half Life 2 used for firefight fire drill

Learning how to flee your office, apartment block or university dorm if fire breaks out could be as simple as playing Half Life 2 or Doom 3, researchers from the University of Durham have found. Durham_fire_videogame_011 Durham Uni boffins used Half Life 2 to recreate a fire in its computer science department Scientists …


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  1. Martin Silver badge

    Just local colour

    > co-worker eating demons, optional chainsaws and barrels of toxic waste blocking doorways

    You've been to Durham then?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Problem is...

    If you try this at home and the authorities find out you will be accused of plotting a terrorist attack or planning a shooting rampage, especially if it is for a school.

    In a real fire I wouldn't fancy tripping over a geek who spent all his spare time playing video games but couldn't interact with the real world.

  3. Joe K
    Dead Vulture

    Constructed a "virtual reality model"?!?

    You mean they played with the level creator, and made a game.

    Fucks sake.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind the fire axe..

    Gimme a BFG !

    Exits cleared in no time.

  5. Jerome

    Video games experience

    "However, those with videogames experience performed better than those without."

    Not according to the version of this story that other sites are running. Apparently, the gamers would rush through fire-engulfed doorways without a second thought for their safety, while the less video-game savvy had the crazy idea to find another way out.

    Presumably the gamers thought they'd only lose 5 or 10 health for a bit of heat damage, rather than setting their clothes on fire and suffering third degree burns over a large percentage of their body.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another shining example

    "However, those with videogames experience performed better than those without."

    Really? I heard the gamers tried running through the flames because they just treated it as a game and didn't want to do it "properly". But then that was a while ago, once again the story has changed in the time between making the news and making the Register...

  7. Nick Palmer


    "However, those with videogames experience performed better than those without."

    Especially when it came to dodging burning headcrabs?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Already been done

    That's great. Except for the fact that a company called VectorCommand have been making software such as this for years, primarily for use by the fire service, but easily customisable for use by companies.

    Of course for information like that, you can't get paid for several years to sit around playing Half-Life 2 and no doubt various other computer games under the guise of "research". Good work if you can get it.

    Seriously, is this what we're paying "boffins" for?

  9. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)


    Since the material wasn't published by the University of Durham until this past midnight, there's not a lot we could have done to run the story earlier.

    I suggest you find a technology news site with a time travel facility, if you think we're running particularly late.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    Very clever, I'm sure.

    Now do it again. This time only using the pistol.

  11. Mark

    As long as there are no head crabs

    On the way out the building, I will be fine...

  12. Richard

    That's all very well

    The simulant left about 4 fire doors open on his way out - WTG as the fire spreads in his wake...

    he'd be the only one that made it out alive. Mind you, if it's one of those buildings on Elvet it's probably for the best ;)

  13. Paul Norton

    Leaving them to burn

    Nice to see in the demo vid that whenever a fire is encountered, the door is left wide open to allow the fire to spread.

    Facilitating the deaths of coworkers is one way of getting a promotion, I guess?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news...

    ...teachers around the country are perplexed, as students insist on jumping and turning constantly while exiting the building during fire drills...

    /old school

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Bin dun

    One particularly slow night shift, a bunch of us created a level map of our datacentre in doom, just for fun. Must have been, what, 14 years ago.

  16. Ritesh Tendulkar

    No Shit Sherlock!!

    "However, those with videogames experience performed better than those without."

  17. Smallbrainfield
    Thumb Up

    They could at least have given him the crowbar.

    That would have made short work of those office windows.

  18. Ron Eve


    Please! Won't someone think of the children!

  19. Ben Mathews


    Should have used farcry 2 for the funky fire propagation!

  20. Tom


    "co-worker eating demons, optional chainsaws and barrels of toxic waste blocking doorways"

    WHAT!?! the barrels are not an option, every rendered environment since the original doom has exploding barrels, it's the bloody law!

  21. Doug Southworth

    Eh, who cares

    If I die during the fire drill, I'll just respawn and try it again.

    Mine's the one with the instant health restoring med kit in the pocket.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sounds familiar

    "Scientists there have created a virtual reality model of the university’s three-floor computer science department using the Source engine that underlies Half Life 2"

    oh yes, the last person in a school to do this was arrested for planning a columbine style massacre.

  23. Chris


    Next time there's a fire at work, I'll crouch jump through a burning window and bunnyhop to safety.

    +buy vesthelm

  24. Julian Taylor
    Jobs Halo

    Geek tripping

    "In a real fire I wouldn't fancy tripping over a geek who spent all his spare time playing video games but couldn't interact with the real world."

    I think in a real fire you might be more concerned in getting out of the building though. You might find that, as a result of his having actually played the game, the geek is already out of danger and quite happy downing a few cold ones at the student's union, having known exactly the way to escape the building.

  25. charles blackburn

    @ TeeCee

    now now... come on.. all CS:Source players (and 1.6 players) know that it's better to run with your knife out :))

    "counter terrorists win"

    I suppose this brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "this is a save round" :))

  26. Zed


    OMG that guy in teh video is such a n00b, he would be pwnd totally on a real server lol

  27. peter

    Gamers did better

    The IT geeks in the Army have to do some physical training and occasionaly a mock firefight.

    The attemps are similar, run into an enemy fortified position and spray and pray before running off again, dodging enemy "bullets" and making it back to safety.

    Rinse and repeat using one man each time until the enemy are taken out, or rush in all at once and lose 90% of the team but keep some alive to claim victory. Statistically they have a good chance of missing you, whereas the IT geek has multiple targets and only minutes to live.

  28. iRadiate

    no one closed the doors behind them

    I was taught to close the doors behind me to help starve the fire of fresh oxygen

  29. Ronny Cook


    “Although virtual environment toolkits are available, they usually only provide a subset of the tools needed to build complete virtual worlds,” he said.

    Although my guess would be that price is more of a differentiating factor. Grad student time is cheap, commercial VR sims are not - and you don't get a publication credit for using a tool for the purpose for which it was written...

    Did they find some people escaped faster by running while strafing?

  30. Anonymous Coward

    been there done that lol


    Was the half life one engine i think they used

  31. druck Silver badge

    Hot handles

    Playing games such games isn't going to teach you the skills needed to stay alive in a burning building. Before you get to the stage of closing the door behind you, you need to know if it is safe to open, by feeling the surface and then the handle. If it's hot, don't open it, or you'll get a face full of back draft, and it's game over.

  32. Dale


    Stop worrying about not closing the doors! You can hear them closing automatically in the background, which is what you would expect a decent fire door to do. I would be more concerned by the lack of suitable fire exit signage. Each sign ought to be pointing to where the next one is located so you can follow them out.

  33. Dex


    Where be this?

    *toddles off to ModDB to try and find it*

    Mines the HEV suit.....what? no HEV suits in the real world? Noooooooooooooooooooooooo

  34. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Oh hell yeah, mine's the RPG!

  35. Allan Dyer


    OK, is the co-worker eating the demon, or vica-versa?

    Mine's the one with the copy of "Eats, arms and fires" (slightly bloody, with holes) in the pocket.

  36. Lukin Brewer

    Were they marked on presentation?

    If so, those interlacing artefacts might have cost them marks. Remember to deinterlace your video before you post it, guys.

    In an opposite example to the story, the lighting automation in one of our windowless stairwells went on the blink once - it kept turning on and off at random. I did a sign saying "Warning: dimensional rift ahead. Beware of the cacodaemon."

    It was either that or "Warning: Turner Prize-winning installation ahead. Watch out for pretentious artistic hissy fits."

  37. David Sidebotham
    Jobs Horns

    Real virtualisation

    What would be missing is the hoards of screaming students (kids as we used to call them); of course one could always "blast em" on the way out.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    hoards of screaming students

    That's "hordes", unless you've stashed them somewhere</pedantry>

  39. Nathan


    just use the zero-point energy gun to throw other students into the fire and be the last person left alive...

    Its called free for all!

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