UCL News


"Gaming for good" at the Science Museum with Sea Hero Quest

9 November 2017

Visitors to the Science Museum's Lates event had the chance to "game for good" and contribute to essential dementia research when they met Dr Hugo Spiers and the team behind Sea Hero Quest.

A visitor trying out Sea Hero Quest VR. Source: Deutsche Telekom A.G.

Sea Hero Quest is a multi-platform mobile game developed by Dr Spiers (Division of Psychology and Language Sciences) in collaboration with Deutsche Telekom, the University of East Anglia, Alzheimer's Research UK and game developers Glitchers.

Loss of navigation skills is an early symptom of dementia. In the game, players undertake a series of navigational challenges. The data generated by the game is then used by the research team to understand how spatial navigation works and to create the world's largest benchmark of how humans navigate. This benchmark will ultimately lead to quicker dementia diagnoses.

In addition to the highly successful mobile platform, the team has recently developed a virtual reality (VR) version. Sea Hero Quest VR captures players' subtler behavioural reactions, such as stopping and looking around when they are not sure where to turn.

The Science Museum invited Sea Hero Quest to participate in its October 2017 Lates event. Dr Spiers showcased both the mobile and VR platforms and spoke to visitors about the progress of his team's research. Visitors were shown how Sea Hero Quest has contributed to essential dementia research and learned about the future of the project.

They then had the chance to contribute to the research themselves by playing the game on both VR and mobile platforms.

Dr Hugo Spiers at the Science Museum. Image credit: Deutsche Telekom A.G.

Dr Spiers said, "The Science Museum Lates are a fantastic way to engage the public with science. Not only to educate them about the challenges facing dementia research, but invite them to make a difference themselves by playing the video game."

Since its launch in 2016, the original Sea Hero Quest has been downloaded nearly 3 million times; the amount of data generated is equivalent to over 12,000 years of similar lab based research. The VR version has been downloaded 75,000 times since its launch in August 2017.

Image credit 

  • Deutsche Telekom A.G.