August 20, 2019
We hope to create a more immersive gaming experience by using 3-D technologies, specifically augmented reality (AR). By combining the visual aspects of AR with the auditory elements created by sound design, we believe that our game can break traditional gaming barriers.
- Sheiran Phu, Yale College ’19 (East Asian studies)
- Adam Moftah, Yale College ’19 (Art – graphic design track)
- Elia Taffa, Yale College ’20 (prospective: computing and the arts)
You are hanging out in your room, anticipating digging into some tasty fruit after dinner. Suddenly, the door is pushed open by a posse of raccoons charging straight for the fruit bowl. You manage to repel some of them, but others are scurrying in through the windows and even through the heat vents. And your only weapon is your smartphone.
Will you be able to save your snacks?
Save Our Snax! team member Sheiran Phu explains, “With Save Our Snax! we wanted to create an immersive video gaming experience that would employ virtual reality technology to create a navigable fantasy world.” The challenge that the participants initially set for themselves was to break traditional gaming barriers with a game — to be played on a mobile device — that would overlay a template for that world onto the real surroundings of the viewer.
“The team had an intriguing idea, but little practical game design experience,” notes steering committee advisor Johannes DeYoung. Although Phu and Moftah had done some work with computer game design (Taffa had no previous game design experience), the learning curve for this project as originally conceived was steep, involving becoming familiar with the operations and limitations of complex hardware and software that the team had not worked with before.
Aware of the experience gap and educational opportunities at hand, faculty advisors connected the team with affiliate faculty members to help guide the project. The team consulted Elena Bertozzi, a game designer and Gates Foundation grant recipient, to develop an official game design document. They also consulted Andrew Schartmann, a composer and music theorist, to develop sound design strategies for the immersive experience.
By the May 2017 end date of the project, the team realized they would not to bring to completion the final product they had envisioned. “The research and skill-building part of the project was more time-intensive than we anticipated,” Moftah notes. Still, team members individually and collectively became more proficient in technical modalities including 3-D technologies and game design — modalities that will be increasingly integrated into our everyday lives, whether we play video games or not. Phu says that she can imagine that virtual technologies might be used for learning languages, or for creating visual guidebooks for travels — and she and her teammates are eager to see what horizons their enhanced skills will open.
“This is a clear instance of where the virtue lay in the process rather than the product,” DeYoung says. “With their deeper understanding of the game design process, the team members will use their experiences for years to come.”