RPI releases augmented reality game to raise awareness of harmful algae blooms

Rensselaer County
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FILE – An algae bloom. Researchers and officials across the country say increasingly frequent toxic algae blooms are another bi-product of global warming. They point to looming questions about their effects on human health.(Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, File)

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Eco Resilience Games from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has released an augmented reality (AR) game focusing on harmful algae blooms. The game, “Algae Bloom Dynamics,” uses AR to create a photo-realistic, aquatic ecosystem where users walk around the habitat to help find solutions for factors that cause algae blooms.

“Algae blooms are an increasing threat to aquatic ecosystems globally,” said Kathleen Ruiz, director of Eco Resilience Games. “With ‘Algae Bloom Dynamics’, we’re using advanced game technology to create a virtual world that inspires us to preserve our actual world.”

The game was developed for use on mobile and tablet devices and for users aged 4 and up. For the game, players point their mobile device at the augmented reality in front of them and walk around the island, clicking on items to gain information. When the water becomes green from an algae bloom, players must uncover the source of the problem and implement a solution to return the ecosystem to a healthy state.

“Games can be an incredibly powerful tool for educating, enlightening, and activating young and old alike,” Ruiz said. “It is our hope is that ‘Algae Bloom Dynamics’ will enable people of all ages to learn about ecological issues and climate change in an immersive and visceral way that can help them understand the vital need to work together globally for a sustainable future.”

The game will officially launch at a release event on November 21 at the Museum of Innovation and Science, in Schenectady. The event is open to the public and is free with admission to the museum. Face masks and social distancing will be required at the event.

The game will be available globally for free download in the Apple iOS App Store and Google Play. More information about “Algae Bloom Dynamics” can be found on the game’s website.

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