In a world where ’technology’ is one of the most commonly spoken languages, it is difficult to separate oneself from the evolving technological advances we see around us, especially when it involves gaming. Whether it is partaking in an online session or, delving into the world of virtual reality, the culture of gaming has been on the rise. MMO-RPG (Massive Multiplayer Online – Role Playing Game) technology has also been used for training and educational purposes as it allows for people to experience a new kind of reality they would not have been able to otherwise. Bahraini Mahmood Saeed Saleem Al Sarahi, an Information and Communication Technology student at Bahrain Polytechnic, through his virtual reality horror-genre game, Conscious Heart, created such an experience.
The game demo was created for the university’s senior ICT project exhibition in June and students were given the opportunity to display their work. Al Sarahi’s creativity fused with his tech savvy skills earned him the Project of the Year Award for Programming and he spoke with Perle Magazine about his award-winning project.
Tell us a little about yourself and what you are studying at Bahrain Polytechnic?
I am an Information and Communication Technology student, majoring in Management of Information Systems but I am greatly interested in Programming, especially game development. I started game development only last year as a course in our university but I took a great liking to it. Unconscious Heart was developed as an in-house project.
What is the concept behind Unconscious Heart?
Conscious Heart is 3D horror game that combines virtual reality and biofeedback technologies. The game intensity levels change as the heart-rate changes. As a person gets more scared, the difficulty level increases and vice versa. The game is set to encourage players to gain awareness about their internal body responses and develop their emotional and mental control while delivering an innovating and adaptive type of experience.
What was the process that you went through to develop this game?
It started as a project proposal for my university since they allow us to do special design projects if they were interesting and we can assure that we will deliver. It was merely a concept I wanted to explore and learn from and my project manager, Dr. Christos Gatzoulis, encouraged me to do so. He offered me his expertise in game development whenever required. I was also fortunate to be able to use the services, tools, licenses and assets required through Bahrain Polytechnic. I began development and became more enthusiastic about it with each passing day. I participated in the Imagine Cup competition and won the Bahrain National Finals. As for the final result, within the allocated timeframe, i was only able to create a demo which is capable of delivering the unique experience.
What inspired you to create this unique game?
Many people around the world suffer from stress on nearly a daily basis. From work to family, these stresses effect how our body and brain function. I sought to look for a solution where a person could be raised for such purposes, so I familiarised myself with biofeedback applications where the heart rate is monitored and you need to simply try to keep it within a range. The idea came from similar applications that are for fitness but they are not very interactive; I decided to combine that technology with virtual reality to create a new kind of adaptive experience. I am not a psychological doctor but I am ambitious in trying to make this game into a therapeutic tool for people who suffer from stress, anxiety and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
What plans do you have for the future in regards to your projects?
This project is a prototype so far but I believe I could enhance this further and deliver it as a complete product for the future. It is still in the early stages but I will continue to develop it until it is finished and released. This is not my last game as I will keep on developing and hopefully sometime in the future work at a studio.
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