Our team worked on the development of an educational and entertaining video game, targeted for middle school students, to introduce them to research at the Polar Regions. We enhanced an existing video game, improving the visual quality of the game, and incorporating biologically inspired aspects into the game play. The game consists of a colony of penguins that must be tagged for a science mission in order for the scientist to track the penguins’ movements throughout the year. The penguins move around to avoid being tagged (walk, run, and, slide) and hide behind snow mounds or other obstacles.
In developing this game, we were involved in specifying, designing, implementing, and testing the software for the game. The platforms and packages that were utilized included Visual C++ Express Edition and Microsoft Platform SDK (Software Development Kit). We generated enhanced images for penguins and other objects in the game. We researched the behavior of penguins in order to make the game more realistic, such as studying the walking and running speeds of penguins. The game play was also improved based on the results of testing performed using human subjects, incorporating the feedback from the players. Conducting this research and being involved in developing this game have improved our programming and software engineering skills, while resulting in an entertaining educational resource for middle school students in order to get them interested in STEM disciplines.