My 4th year Major Project at Massey University in 2012.

Hazard city is an exploration into how graphic design and digital media technology could be used to create an experience driven educational video game designed for restricted drivers, with the aim of helping to reduce the number of accidents involving youth drivers in New Zealand.

Every year an incredible number of 16 to 24 year old youth drivers are involved in fatal and non fatal accidents in New Zealand. While primarily involving males, this issue carries a social cost of about 1.05 billion dollars annually. However these accidents would be preventable if there were more risk-free learning tools in place.

Experiences hold a crucial place in many aspects of life. Learning by experience allows the learner to succeed and fail as many times as needed and draw their own conclusions and responses by interacting with content. Research has highlighted some important factors that need to be considered. Good driving is not just all about vehicle control, other aspects of driving such as spacial awareness, and an awareness of your actions and decisions need to be considered. Drugs, alcohol and general lack of recognition for road rules are outlined as key factors in the number of accidents every year.

However in youth, the frontal lobe of the brain, the part that suppresses the desire for thrills and risk taking and also controls core motor functions used while driving, doesn’t fully develop until the mid 20’s. This means having youth practice solely on the road is making them highly vulnerable. During this period of development there is a missed opportunity to provide meaningful learning experience away from the open road in a risk free digital space.

The design strategy was to create a booklet that provided the reader with practical information on hazard management skills and techniques and also mock up an interactive game that would show how players could gain experience with driving hazards using real world hazard management skills as core gameplay mechanics. The aim is that by engaging with both of these elements knowledge can then be translated to the users own real life driving experiences as they continue to engage with booklet and game.

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