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Gaming for good

By Heidi Wicks

MUN student Matthew White is using his gaming powers for good.

Mr. White, a PhD candidate in Education, is an expert on video games and the effects they can have in education. He has created a game for iPhone and iPod touch, called Fly vs. Car.

Half of the proceeds from the sale of the game will go to a Seattle-based children’s hospital charity organization Child’s Play, which places toys and games in children’s hospitals where patients don’t often get the chance to get out and be kids.

“ gives a long list of different games that have had meaningful effects on people’s perception, ability to learn, and encounter different situations that they might not otherwise have been able to do,” he said. “Games like World of Warcraft, for example, raised the awareness of colour-blind people by including colour blind mode to differentiate red and green. So it then raises the awareness in mainstream media that colour blindness is much more common than we think.”

Fly vs. Car was created through Mr. White’s company, Snow Day Games.
“I started discussing the idea of starting a company while talking to a few friends I’d gone to school with, while we were at a game developers conference this year,” he said. “I’ve always been interested in games that can make a difference in some way or another, so we were more than happy when Child’s Play said they’d like to partner. It was a wonderful way to simultaneously help someone else and get some recognition as a new and young company.”

The game involves tilting your iPhone or iPod back and forth to dodge cars as a little bug. Mr. White said that in addition to helping children learn, games can also be used as intervention technologies to help disabled people or people with limited mobility experience sports and play in a way they might not otherwise be able to.

“Perhaps the most well-covered example was with geriatric wards and the Nintendo Wii, for increasing people’s mobility, getting them moving, getting social activities happening within senior’s homes – these are all little side examples of games having a positive effect on people’s lives, outside of just being fun,” he said.

Fly vs. Car was released on July 15, and is available at the Apple iTunes store.