Virtual reality isn’t just a fun way to spend your downtime – it’s a good education tool too.
In fact, one of the games developed as part of the National Road Safety Game Jam, might be the perfect way to help Northern Territory youths realise just how dangerous rock throwing is.
The game jam, a joint effort by TrafficWerx NT and Larrikin Interactive, was an opportunity to engage students, gamers and educators to discuss road safety.
One of the brains behind the initiative Nathan Groves, an IT worker from TrafficWerx NT, said one of the winning games was inspired by a problem Buslink drivers faced in the NT.
He said local VR developer Zephyr Dobson took out the most innovative game award with his “NT VR Bus Safety Experience”, an impactful take on what it’s like to be on the inside of a public bus that is being pelted by rocks.
The game came about after Mr Groves conversation with Buslink NT’s community engagement manager Colin Majid, who spends much of his time in the community trying to educate youths about anti-social behaviours and why they’re dangerous.
“We talked (with Zephyr) about the fact that the they find rock throwing fun, its fun hearing it smash and they see it as a challenge,” Mr Groves said.
“In VR everything is quite immersive, so Zephyr went with what its like inside the bus while rocks are being thrown at it. He’s done a basic design of it so far but it’s getting there.
“It’s truly terrifying, which is the point. He’s done well to emulate what it’s like being on a bus and having rocks thrown at you. I think there’s nothing like VR to put you in that experience.”
Mr Groves said the competition was born after a discussion about how the business could support National Safety Week and the idea of a game jam (think hackathon but for games) came up so he and Dylan Bennett from Larrikin Interactive worked to make it happen.
“The important thing for us is that young people really like computer games and they’re at most risk of being hurt or dying so this is a good overlap,” he said.
“It’s a great way to share a message like that of National Safety Week in a way they can understand.”
Competitors from all over Australia were given a month time limit and were tasked to build a game with the theme of “true impact”.
28 developers took part with 13 games submitted and 10 awards were handed out during the recent awards night.
Mr Groves said many of the games were clever – like the one that took out Buslink NT’s Best Art Award, “Keys Please” by Mr Mininja.
The game won the award because all the 3D models were designed from the ground up by Mr Mininja, with dialog clips recorded from their friends.
“You had to play a character running around in a pub and take all the keys off the drunk people,” Mr Groves said.
“Buslink have commented that it’s quite a fitting award, as Buslink consider themselves the sober bob for many party goers going to events in Darwin.”
Other highlights included a local 15-year-old who made a game about delivering pizzas on a bike when, plot twist, mum calls and if you answer, your vision is greatly reduced making it almost impossible to drive.
To play the games and see how each developer tackled the challenge, visit https://itch.io/jam/road-safety-week-game-jam
- Roadside Services Best Use of Theme – Driving Lennox by Zaapp
- Buslink Best Art Award – Keys Please by Mr Mininja
- Steam Tant Rising Star Award – Slice of Safety by Daggerheart
- TMAA Most Innovative Game -NT VR Bus Safety Experience by Zepher
- Towards Zero Best Overall Game – Drivers and Dragons by Sylvan
- National Road Safety Champion – Drink Driving is Bad, Mkay by Coldie
- National Road Safety Champion – OzTraffic SA by MarcusFromOz
- National Road Safety Champion – Way Ahead by Sergey Germogentov
- National Road Safety Champion – Road Share Award by Issung
- National Rising Star – Avoid by Mira