The emotional impact of Alzheimer’s disease has been explored by a student computer game project, which will be revealed to the public at the Abertay Digital Graduate Show this Friday (8 May).
Alexander Tarvet developed the idea during his Game Design & Production Management degree, looking at how a game can give a unique first-person experience of a debilitating and distressing medical condition.
He was keen to raise awareness both of the impact memory loss has for the individual patient as familiar objects and people become distant, but also for the immediate family.
There will be 850,000 people living with some form of dementia in the UK by the end of 2015 according to the Alzheimer’s Society, showing how widespread this condition has become.
Alexander said: “Computer games are one of the greatest ways to let people safely explore a situation they’ve never experienced, as you’re creating a whole new world to explore. Many games deal with fantasy and fiction, but I wanted to look at something much more serious.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating condition for everyone affected and their loved ones, and through playing Forget-Me-Knot the player gets an immediate sense of the confusion the character feels.
“They’re in their living room, which should be a safe and comforting space, but it has become hostile and unsettling as they’ve lost memories of the personal objects all around the room.
“The player is in exactly the same position as the person with Alzheimer’s – both have to explore the room and try and piece together an understanding of photos and letters through clues left on shelves and in drawers.
“I hope the project will help anyone who plays the game to understand more about Alzheimer’s disease. Putting yourself into the shoes of the person with the disease gives a very immediate, visceral sense of how disorientating and terrifying it must be to live with long-term memory loss.”
Alexander is one of 170 students showing their final year projects in Abertay University’s main Kydd Building and the Hannah Maclure Centre art gallery, on the top floor of the Student Centre.