Students' educational computer game wins award
17 July 2012
Two University of Canterbury PhD students have received international recognition for their educational computer game, GeoThermal World.
Hazel Bradshaw, of software company Driedfrog Ltd, who is working on her doctoral degree through the Human Interface Technology Laboratory New Zealand, and geological sciences student Jacqueline Dohaney have been awarded the student prize in the Serious Games Showcase and Challenge at Australasia’s annual Asia Pacific Simulation and Training conference (SIMTECT) in Adelaide for their game GeoThermal World.
The game, designed and developed by Hazel and Jacqueline, allows student geologists to immerse themselves in a virtual world where they can experience the complexities of geothermal geology and exploration through safe, realistic and engaging gameplay.
Players complete a variety of “real world” missions while collecting and assessing data, taking photographs and recording field notes.
The game takes place in a visually accurate representation of the Mount Edgecumbe/Putauaki volcanic area in New Zealand’s North Island. Using dynamic 3D modelling, the virtual area has been developed from mapping data and allows free roaming by players.
The project was funded by Mighty River Power Limited.
Jacqueline and Hazel said they also aim to gain an understanding of the motivational and attitudinal impacts that a video game, with a virtual environment, has on students compared with traditional field geology techniques. They want to find out if the gameplay's design supports a student's ability to undertake skilled tasks and if the design enables conditions for enjoyment and ‘Flow’ (the theory of optimal experience).
As a result of winning the student award, Hazel and Jacqueline have been invited to the United States to compete at the International Serious Games Showcase and Challenge during I/ITSEC (Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference) in Orlando, Florida, in December 2012. I/ITSEC is billed as the world’s largest modelling, simulation and training conference.
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