The Pet Project is a game played on a mobile device and a public digital display that allows its players to learn more about mental health. It is designed to be an educational tool and not a treatment.
Players will adopt a virtual pet through their mobile application and join a team to participate in the snowball fight. The snowball fight is powered by four different mental-health based mini games that is played through the mobile device: Blitz Quiz, Bust-A-Myth, Go-No-Go, and Snow Catching. Their virtual pet is can also be customized with clothes and costumes that can be acquired as in-game rewards through participating in research components such as survey, questionnaires, and an interview.
There will be several locations for the public displays and it they will be located in public and open spaces. It is interactive with the game through the use of QR codes. A lot of the components from the large display closely binds with components in the mobile application, which encourages players to visit it frequently. It displays the important functions and information of the snowball fight, such as team forts, number of snowballs, and group polls. The large display also allows players to post positive comments that can strengthen their team forts.
This game is part of an on-going study by Rina Wehbe, a PhD candidate in Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, in collaboration with researchers from the OHLab at Carnegie Mellon University. The researchers for this study are investigating the mental health literacy of players. The goal of the study is to explore how researchers may use large displays in public settings to make a positive change in the local community. In particular, the study focuses on understanding mental health literacy with the intention to see how information and educational resources set in a playful environment may be used to reduce mental health stigma. Please note that through playing this game, you are participating in this research study.
In order to assess the effectiveness of the game in building a positive community, data will be collected from doing observations on participant interactions around the large display. The researchers will also conduct interviews where participants will be asked questions regarding their game experience on the mobile device and the large display. Data will also be collected from the in-app surveys like the Mental Health Literacy and Player Experience questionnaires and in-app game data will also be analyzed to measure if participants were able to expand their mental health knowledge through the game.
This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee (ORE#41046). If you have questions for the Committee contact the Office of Research Ethics, at 1-519-888-4567 ext. 36005 or ore-ceo[at]uwaterloo.ca.