Evacuation Computer Game
Human responses to multiple sources of directional information in virtual crowd evacuations

Understanding human decision-making within an evacuating crowd is important for making evacuation processes safer. However, it is difficult to conduct scientific experiments on evacuations, because we don't want to put people at risk and experiments including a lot of people at the same time are difficult to set up. This is why we designed a computer game in which we can investigate the decisions of humans safely and in a controlled and repeatable way. -You can find the paper here-


Over five hundred people took part in our experiment. Participants had to choose between different exit routes under the influence of three different types of directional information: static information (signs), dynamic information (movement of simulated crowd), memorised information, as well as the combined effect of these different sources of directional information. In contrast to signs, crowd movement and memorised information did not have a significant effect on human exit route choice in isolation. However, when we combined the latter two treatments with additional directly conflicting sources of directional information, such as signs, they showed a clear effect by reducing the number of participants that followed the opposing directional information. This suggests that the signals participants observe more closely in isolation do not simply overrule alternative sources of directional information. Age and gender did not consistently explain differences in behaviour in our experiments.

Snapshot of the computer game. Circles represent people.
  • The research was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface -paper-
  • Human behaviour in real evacuations may be different. We think our research is useful because it highlights aspects of human behaviour that merit further study.
  • We have conducted another study using evacuation computer games. Find out more here
  • This game is not supposed to teach people how to behave in evacuations, but we hope it can raise awareness for the importance of understanding behaviour in evacuations.
  • Please contact me if you have additional questions about the experiment.

Nikolai Bode
Dept. of Mathematical Sciences
University of Essex

updated 18 OCT 2013
© Nikolai Bode 2013

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