VR-10, Singapore Govt initiative of educating through games

An engaging Government is always a good example, giving a boost to any industry in the country.

A perfect example of this is the Singapore Government and the initiative taken by the Land Transport Authority of Singapore which has developed a 3D game called “VR-10”, aimed at educating and entertaining school students of ages 10-12 on land transport matters in Singapore.

Speaking to Animation Xpress.com, Dennis Yeo, Project Manager for VR-10 and Manager of IT Planning Division of LTA shared, “In LTA, we are mindful that our business is all about people. We encourage young Singaporeans to contribute ideas and solutions so that we can better meet Singaporeans‘ transport needs. Recognizing that the younger generation is becoming increasingly technology-savvy, LTA capitalized on the interactive media as part of our outreach program to launch the game”

VR 10 is based on a concept put forth by Max Auw Jun Quan, Michelle Tan Sze Ying and Joanna Yao Shi. The game which has four levels was originally initiated to mark LTA‘s 10th anniversary VR-10 and took a year to be completed.

A project team called the “VR-10 Troopers” comprising young LTA officers was formed to translate serious land transport policies and road safety issues into a game which would be fun and appealing to the students.

*Game Play concept in the following table

VR-10 revolves around an alien named VR-10 (which sounds like “We are 10!” to denote LTA‘s 10th year since its inception) cruising in space in the year 3005 and getting caught in a time warp that sends his cruiser back to planet Earth in 2005. On entering the Earth‘s atmosphere, VR-10‘s cruiser breaks into four fragments that are scattered all over an island one degree north of the equator (Singapore).

In order to return home, VR-10 has to find all four spaceship fragments. Players assume the role of VR-10 and get around the island on various modes of transportation, such as bicycles, buses, cars and the MRT train. Along the way, they answer questions and receive tokens in the form of cash, EZ-Link or Cash Card credits until they retrieve all four spaceship fragments.

Through answering questions of different categories in the game play, players will learn key values and concepts such as road safety, road courtesy, value and affordability of various modes of land transport, efficiency and safety of the land transport system.

The VR-10 game, as a project, faced its share of challenges. The first challenge was to translate serious land transport policies and issues into an interactive game pitched at 10 to 12-year old children.

Another challenge faced was resolving technical problems like graphic cards incompatibility, insufficient access rights during installations at the schools when the demo eGame CDs were distributed. The PC configurations at each school were different. To facilitate problem solving, a VR-10 helpdesk was set up to assist the schools to resolve the technical problems.

To ensure that students find the VR-10 eGame fun to play, pilot trials were conducted at three primary schools as well as with LTA‘s own staff‘s children. About 350 children took part in the trial and gave the absolute thumbs up for the eGame! A series of road shows were also held at the libraries across Singapore which yielded encouraging support.

Encouraged by the enthusiasm, LTA was convinced that edutainment is a viable means of outreach and began planning with various partners for an interschool eGaming challenge. At its debut, teachers, principals and students of various primary schools gathered enthusiastically to hear about the game and the challenge.

At least 10,000 copies of the eGame were distributed to 178 primary schools in Singapore. More than 150,000 students of primary 4 to 6 had the opportunity to experience the VR-10 eGame, alongside their teachers, parents and siblings.

Some of the primary schools, like the Farrer Park Primary School, have subsequently incorporated VR-10 as part of their IT curriculum. VR-10 was also part of the World Cyber Games 2006 Asian Championship.

Driven by the overwhelming positive response, the LTA is currently planning on the development of VR-10‘s sequel called VR-10 Returns.

As a parting shot Dennis said “Innovation knows no bounds! The eGame is Singapore‘s first 3D interactive game on land transport in the public service and has demonstrated that serious policies and issues can also be conveyed in the most innovative and creative way”

connect@animationxpress.com

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