Minutes to Midnight: Promoting Creation, Culpability, and Critical Thinking

Presenter: Chris Germano

Research Category: Computer and Information Sciences
Student Type: Undergraduate
Additional Authors: Duncan MacLeod, Justin Yang
PI: Chris Germano
Award: Innovation
Award Winner Category: Computer and Information Sciences

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The monumental popularity of video games in modern culture has revolutionized interactive media through introducing new forms of user control, despite neglecting potential hazards with regards to player psychology. While there are concerns about negative effects that chronic playing of violent or otherwise questionable games could result in, few games prioritize critical thinking that has the player adopt virtual accountability for their actions: a mindset could translate to the players’ actions in real life. Minutes to Midnightis a storytelling game that has the player become a national leader deciding a retaliation strategy after an anonymous explosion sent him and a random group of civilians into a secure underground bunker with no outside communication. This is not a game where you win or lose, but rewarded for accurately judging the validity of facts you attain through conversation and research. Retaliating or peacefully responding is only part of the equation, as an uninformed decision will ruin your reputation or entire nation. This gameplay puts the player in an unfamiliar situation: they’re rewarded for responsibility, not just accuracy. Players enjoy adapting to the gameplay style after repeated plays as they understand which approaches are more valuable, and most importantly, they understand nobody is to blame but themselves if unsuccessful. With iterative developed planned, Minutes to Midnight will support user-created scenarios to not only offer more gameplay but also provide players with relatable situations and convert the game to a tool with potential use in team building exercises, classrooms, and behavioral therapy studies.