Fri, Dec 11, 2009
The New Paper
Find Mas Selamat and win game

By Bryna Sim

TERRORIST Mas Selamat is still lurking around. He needs to be found. Can you do it? No, this is not real life. This is Lion City, and the "sinister terrorist" has escaped.

As Agent N.E.o, you have to hunt him down.

Mas Selamat is a key character in the National Education (NE) game Ge.N.E.ration Z.

The game, which was created using 3-D social-networking platform Second Life by a grouping of schools called the South 1 NE Community of Practice.

The game, targeted at students, requires players to shoot down other terrorists while trying to find Mas Selamat.

Another objective is to recapture "national monuments" such as the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles and the National Museum along the way.

The game ends at the 13th level - when Agent N.E.o captures Mas Selamat after a final showdown, involving a quiz and a shooting challenge.

"The game has a strong anti-terrorism message," said Mrs Tonnine Chua, vice-principal of Yuying Secondary School and adviser to the South 1 NE group.

Yuying was one of six secondary schools involved in this project.

The group comprises six primary and six secondary schools, which came together to design and create two games.

The secondary schools produced Ge.N.E.ration Z. The primary schools came up with Aliens VS Singapore, where players must shoot and kill aliens to wrest back national monuments captured by the aliens.

The game has three levels, and players are to answer a series of questions accurately to proceed to higher levels.

Ge.N.E.ration Z was so well-received that it won the Singapore Schools Best Virtual World Game award at the Shooot Awards Night on Sunday, Asia's first ceremony for 3-D videos shot using techniques called machinima.

Machinima - coined from the words "machine" and "cinema" - refers to a collection of production techniques in which computer-generated imagery is created using gaming and virtual-world platforms.

The Shooot Awards Night was part of a three-day Shooot Fiesta that started last Friday, showcasing the ability of young people to use digital media.

Shooot was launched on 8 May as a new initiative with support from the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, and Creative Community Singapore.

It allows content creators to learn and produce creative works for the interactive digital media industry.

Mrs Chua first mooted the idea of having an NE game in February.

"We wanted our students to be interested in NE, so we thought of infusing media and fun into learning it," she said.

Sixteen teachers and 24 students from the 12schools underwent training, then started designing the games, which took about seven months complete.

Most of the game creation was done over the school holidays in June.

Games' content

Although it is not part of the schools' curriculum, Mrs Chua said the games' content can be "infused into the learning of history, social studies and even English".

The project cost about $5,000, inclusive of training sessions for the group. And it has got the thumbs-up from students.

"Playing the game is like going on an adventure," said Ronald Fong, 11, of Jing Shan Primary.

His schoolmate, Gary Tran, 13, who helped to design the brightly coloured aliens in Aliens VS Singapore, was pleased with his creations.

"I used previous games I played for inspiration," he said.

Lim Yong Jie, 14, of Yuying Secondary, enjoys the questions asked at each stage of Ge.N.E.ration Z.

"Questions like "Which is the oldest Hindu temple in Little India?" are challenging and urge me to think hard," he said.

Mrs Chua hopes to bring this NE game beyond the South 1 NE group of schools.

"We want it to benefit other students, especially since this game has been made by students for students," she said.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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