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UCOL Design student best independent Gov Hacker

By UCOL on Thursday, 08 September 2016

Govhack winning project by Whanganui School of Design at UCOL international student Anirudh Cheruvu

A UCOL Master of Design student has taken home a top award from GovHack 2016 Whanganui for his creation of an adventure game that takes players through simulated NZ cities to discover their inner happenings.

GovHack is a weekend-long hackathon event bringing together coders, artists, storytellers, observers, communicators and more, to work with government data to innovate and create.

Picking up the Whanganui local award of Best Independent GovHacker,  UCOL Whanganui international student, Anirudh Cheruvu from India used open data from a range of organisations to create a playable prototype of his game ‘What happened?’ in just a day and a half.

The game is described as a third person adventure game which allows the player to discover interesting facts about Whanganui and Christchurch cities. And the twist – the facts relate mostly to crime history.

“This is a game of discovery where each level has a distinct objective and is mapped to a city, using a contemporary game engine to make creative visualisations of different cities,” Anirudh says.

“In the playable prototype the contours of the landscape are mapped to contours of Whanganui and Christchurch, using geospatial data and creating simulations with detailed terrain. I wanted to make something that allows people to explore, and find out about health and crime stats in an interesting way – rather than just by looking at boring charts and diagrams.”

Foliage to land ratios were created using data from the New Zealand National Vegetation Survey Databank, and Christchurch land erosion was analysed using Christchurch City Council data.

Over 50 crime facts held within the game were sourced from NZ Police statistics. “I converted the NZ Police graphs into interactive text based statistics to create an innovative fact-discovery system,” Anirudh says.

Anirudh’s project was entered into a range of international GovHack prizes, which will be announced at the end of the month.

He says he is delighted to have won the Whanganui local Best Independent Gov Hacker Award. “Creating the playable prototype in just a day and a half was a real challenge, especially working alone to do the animations, the visual scripting, the level design, the contours, the data used and the video production all myself.”

“I owe this achievement to my UCOL tutors, whose feedback to my work has enhanced my design skills.”