UH Academy for Creative Media Develops Online Coral Reef Game for Elementary School Students

Game serves as fun tool for educating young children about the marine ecosystem

University of Hawaiʻi
Posted: Nov 29, 2004

HONOLULU — Hawaiʻi‘s keiki can swim with the fishes in a virtual coral reef. There they can maintain the balance between fish and algae, clean up alien algae and keep an errant ship from damaging the coral when it drops anchor. It‘s all in a new online game from Hawaiʻi‘s Living Reef Campaign developed by University of Hawaiʻi students.

"We wanted to create a computer game that was fun for kids and scientifically sound as part of our larger public education campaign, so we worked with the University of Hawaiʻi‘s Academy for Creative Media to develop a game for elementary students," said Peter Young, Department of Land and Natural Resources chairman.

Kaveh Kardan, chief technologist and instructor in computer animation and game design for the UH Academy for Creative Media, worked with UH Mānoa students Melissa Bolosan and James Steele to build the game, and with Kapiʻolani Community College student Solomon Enos to develop the artwork. The students designed the game using Macromedia Flash.

"The big lesson for the players of the game is to recognize that there is a relationship between number of fish and quantity and quality of algae in the reef ecosystem," said Kardan.

The Hawaiʻi Coral Reef Initiative Research Program, a partnership between the university and the Department of Land and Natural Resources, funded the project. This included support for the purchase of new media equipment and student positions.

Prior to developing the game, designers Bolosan and Steele met with UH Mānoa marine experts including botany professor Celia Smith and biology professor Cynthia Hunter to develop the game‘s concept. After consultation, Bolosan and Steele worked with Enos to create artwork for the game.

The game can be found online at www.hawaiireef.net. The site also features an events calendar, educational resources for teachers, and reef facts.

Hawaiʻi‘s Living Reef program was initiated by the Coral Reef Outreach Network, a consortium of various state, local, nongovernmental and private entities working together for coral reef conservation. The goal of the program is to raise general public awareness of the importance and interconnectedness of the coral reef ecosystem to Hawaiʻi‘s lifestyle and to teach and encourage positive behaviors that will protect and nurture this life-giving natural resource.