As you can probably guess, my Nerd listens to many, many podcasts over the span of a week. Most of them do not interest me in the least. He listens to computer tech stuff while I prefer podcasts like Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project--still a little nerdy, but not quite as technical. Anyway, my Nerd finished listening to a podcast this week and told me that I should look for an app called "Dumb Ways to Die" for my iPhone (not yet available on his precious Windows Phone).
So, I did a search, found it fairly easily and added it to my phone. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but the title pretty much says it all. It's a game that you play to try to avoid dying in very dumb ways. I started laughing as soon as the main screen came up and an astronaut's helmet popped off and his head kind of gushed out. Gross, but since it's a cartoon, it's not gory. This is a game that you need to play with the sound on. Beware! The music will get stuck in your head.
It's a game of speed and accuracy. My very first task was to put mustard on a hot dog. I didn't get it right, so my pet rattlesnake bit me. You get three lives each round and things get progressively faster as you go on. As your score gets higher, you receive an additional character in your train station. My Nerd watched me play and we were both cracking up, trying to figure out how to beat each task. When I scored enough points, I got to watch the video. After watching the video, I realized that the song and game are actually public service announcements! How brilliant is that? The PSA was created by Metro Trains in Australia, to promote safety near trains. You can also take their safety pledge.
I showed the game to my girls the next day and they both couldn't wait to play. They giggled as they tried to keep from dying and they played the video over and over and over again. Let's just say that the song is a big earworm. The girls couldn't believe that people would be so silly to do such dangerous things such as "us(ing) your private parts as piranha bait". They got the message of the song without any prodding from me. Doing any of these dangerous activities are sure to kill you, including going around the gate at a level crossing, crossing to the other side of the tracks, or standing too close to the tracks.
I think this PSA is brilliant because it gets the message across in such a fun way. My girls will probably be singing the song for weeks to come. Hopefully they continue to remember to be safe around trains too.
You can see the video for yourself here:
EDIT: About a week after posting this, I was driving my girls to the library. There is a set of train tracks near the library, but we don't often have to stop. This time we did. It's a level crossing with lights and a bar. My little one pipes up from the backseat, "Look mommy, it's patience, just like Dumb Ways to Die". See, one of the games in Dumb Ways to Die is completing the word patience at a level crossing. If you don't complete it, the car jumps in front of the train to disastrous results. I'm glad that even my youngest got the point of the message.