Greg Garvey of Hamden, professor of game design and development at Quinnipiac University, has received a $25,000 grant from Epic Games to continue the buildout of an educational game.
The grant will be used to fund internships to continue work on “Ad-Tacker: Media Literacy,” a virtual reality game that teaches adolescents how to critically assess targeted advertising designed to influence their purchasing decisions with a focus on vaping products.
“The goal of the game is to empower targeted, young consumers with the critical thinking skills to resist marketing and advertising of unhealthy products in the ‘real world’ by deconstructing the ads in the virtual one,” Garvey said. “The partnership with Yale’s play4REAL XR Lab will sponsor internships in which Quinnipiac game design students will not only be able to leverage their game development skills, but will learn important research methods and data collection under the guidance of cognitive psychologists and scientists.”
A working prototype of the “Ad-Tacker” game was created in the fall of 2019 as a Quinnipiac class project in collaboration with the play4REAL XR Lab at Yale’s Center for Health & Learning Games. The play4REAL Lab focuses on the development and evaluation of evidence-based learning and behavior change experiences through the use of virtual and augmented reality.
Quinnipiac game design and development students Ryan Barthelet, Gustave Gibbs, Daniel Little, William McBride and Ricardo Velez worked on the project.
Working with the Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3D creation tool, the students designed “Ad-Tacker” for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. In the “Ad-Tacker” game, players can disassemble real advertisements to learn how the component parts are used to influence buying behavior.
Garvey said he pioneered the adoption of the Unreal Game Engine to give students the opportunity to work with the software used by some of the biggest game studios and to also provide students with emerging 21st century skills valued by employers, both inside and beyond the games industry.
“Over the next academic year, plans are to continue to build out the prototype virtual reality game and to develop a new prototype for an augmented reality game to be delivered on mobile devices,” he added. “This will enable us to reach a far broader audience for data collection and will set the stage for applying for additional funding next year to support ongoing research and internship opportunities.”
Epic Games, the company behind the popular Fortnite game, has committed $100 million to support game developers, enterprise professionals, media and entertainment creators, students, educators, and tool developers working with the Unreal Game Engine.