Getting serious about boat safety

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College of the North Atlantic students develop educational video game

Students of College of the North Atlantic’s Video Game Design program have come up with a fun, yet educational way spread the word about boat safety. From left are students Kelsey Power, Claire Robbins, instructor Janice Hertel and student Andrew Cutler.

In an effort to prepare boaters for the upcoming season, students of College of the North Atlantic’s Video Game Design program have come up with an educational way spread the word about boat safety.

When video game design instructor Janice Hertel assigned the subject as this year’s project theme in the serious game design course that she teaches second-year students, she hoped the games could have a positive impact.

“A serious game is a game made for purposes other than entertainment, such as education or conveying an important message,” said Hertel. “Each student in the course designed and developed an original mini-game. This collection of student games expresses the message of boating safety to the public through a variety of topics and game play styles.”

The games were designed to be accessible to the public through the college website and played in an Internet Explorer web browser. Claire Robbins developed a game called Smooth Sailing and feels the story is especially relevant to those of college and university age.

 “The primary goal was to educate players on the requirements and merits of specific pieces of boating equipment, while testing them on their knowledge of the subject,” Robbins said.

Kelsey Power designed “point and click” style educational quizzes to teach players about safe and unsafe weather conditions for boating in her game Better Boating Weather. She says it provides a happy medium where learning objectives are combined with engaging and immersive game play.

Andrew Cutler created an arcade style game Wasted Tides, which deals with the serious issue of alcohol consumption while boating.

“Due to the serious and grave nature of boating while under the influence of alcohol, it was of the utmost importance to my serious messages that the game be unwinnable,” Cutler said of his game.

There were seven video games created for the project and Hertel says significant external research went into each game.

“Students also conducted many play testing sessions and collected valuable feedback which they applied iteratively to improve the effectiveness of the educational value and the game play throughout the process,” said Hertel.

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic

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Recent comments

  • Ryne
    May 23, 2014 - 17:39

    This seems like a pretty cool idea. I didn't see any links to the games, however. Could you update the article with links to the games so that we could try them out? On a related note, Boat-Ed has a videos section on their site with a bunch of free videos on boating safety, including life jacket safety, navigation, anchoring, and other common boating safety issues. Check them out here: