Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Ren Reynolds of the Virtual Policy Network reports that the British government has recently released the Code of Everand game, which uses the design aesthetic of popular quest-oriented massive online games that are popular with K-12 students like Runescape, although developers adapted the MMO format for the education of young citizens about traffic safety.

After playing the game for an hour, I soon discovered that much of the game actually plays more like Frogger, since players have to avoid being crushed by the "monsters" whooshing by in the "spirit channels" that they may attempt to cross, preferably at a designated crosswalk. In addition to traps and spells, the main protocol of the channel crossing involves looking right and then looking left to prepare to enter left-side-of-the-road traffic. (See below.)

The "about" page elaborates the game's design philosophy as follows:

Code of Everand is a multiplayer online game, which has been developed by the Department for Transport, to engage children making the transition from Primary to Secondary school, on the topic of road safety. The aim is that players will improve their road safety behaviour and apply what they have learned in the game, to the real world as a learned response. The Department for Transport’s aim is to reduce child pedestrian casualties and deaths among this age group by allowing young people to practice good road safety behaviours through a channel which is known to be very popular among those making the transition to Secondary school.

As a recent article explains, the game was actually developed by Area/Code, a firm perhaps best known for its theoretical work with ARGs and pervasive games.

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