Tayside and Central Scotland

'Dementia simulator' among new games on show in Dundee

Tarvet game 4 Image copyright Abertay University
Image caption Alexander Tarvet's game aims to raise awareness about the impact of dementia

A video game simulating the impact of Alzheimer's disease is among the work going on show at Abertay University's digital graduate show.

More than 170 students are putting work on display at the university across the weekend.

One project offers a first-person perspective of the "confusing" and "unsettling" onset of dementia.

Other submissions include a challenge-free meditation game, and one drawing on American military research.

The annual collection of work from final-year students at the university regularly showcases new approaches to games and digital art.

Alexander Tarvet was keen to use his project, titled "Forget-Me-Knot", to raise awareness about the impact of memory loss for people who have Alzheimer's, on the patient themselves and their family.

He said: "Computer games are one of the greatest ways to let people safely explore a situation they've never experienced, as you're creating a whole new world to explore. Many games deal with fantasy and fiction, but I wanted to look at something much more serious.

Image copyright Abertay University
Image caption Mr Tarvet said the game was a safe way to explore a "devastating condition"

"Alzheimer's disease is a devastating condition for everyone affected and their loved ones, and through playing Forget-Me-Knot the player gets an immediate sense of the confusion the character feels.

"They're in their living room, which should be a safe and comforting space, but it has become hostile and unsettling as they've lost memories of the personal objects all around the room.

"The player is in exactly the same position as the person with Alzheimer's - both have to explore the room and try and piece together an understanding of photos and letters through clues left on shelves and in drawers."

Another project on display attempts to recreate the experience of meditation through a game.

Amy Stevens developed Presence as a game where players could lose themselves in a calm, serene world without any need to complete challenges or finish levels.

Image copyright Abertay University
Image caption Amy Stevens' relaxing game attempts to act as a form of meditation

She said: "While the complexity and challenge that a lot of games have is really fun, there are times when this can be a barrier to just escaping into the story or world, especially when you're feeling stressed and don't want any frustration.

"I'm trying to create a feeling that's similar to meditation, where focusing so much on the present moment makes worries and stresses drift away. I think there's a similarity between this feeling and the way a player gets immersed in a game, even if they might not recognise it.

"I think games have huge potential as an art form and we've only just scratched the surface of what's possible."

Military research

Computer Arts student Jess Hider based her game on the work of the US Air Force's chief scientist, in a bid to create more believable animations.

She used military research into "situational awareness" to start developing animated characters who respond more believably to the environment they are in.

Image copyright Abertay University
Image caption Jess Hider based her game on "situational awareness" research carried out by the US Air Force

She said: "At the start of the year, I was playing many games trying to work out what I wanted to do for my dissertation and during this time I realised that in most games I had played, the character was great at reacting to the physical environment, but barely reacted to the tone of their surroundings.

"This bothered me, as I found it most noticeable in areas where the rest of the environment was clearly emitting a specific atmosphere.

"If the lighting, textures and sound are creating a certain atmosphere, why can't character animations be aligned with this?"

The Abertay Digital Graduate Show is open from 16:00 to 20:00 on Friday, between 12:00 and 16:00 on Saturday and Sunday, and between 09:00 and 12:00 on Monday.

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