ATEC Students Unveil 2nd Game About Life Lessons

With the launch of its second serious game, the UT Dallas Values Game Initiative once again hopes to provoke deep discussions and morality checks.

Endless Life, created by gaming students in the UT Dallas Arts and Technology (ATEC) program, presents a humorous view of what life-extending technology could do to a society. The game made its debut online Nov. 15.

Players must keep the character running on a treadmill at just the right speed to stay alive in Endless Life.

“As science and technology allow us to extend our lives indefinitely, how will we deal with the monotony of everyday life?” Jacob Naasz, one of the game’s core developers, writes on the game website. “And when death doesn’t occur naturally or due to illness, but through accidents and mishaps, how many of us will retreat into our homes or other ‘safe’ places instead of fully living our lives? Endless Life invites players not only to laugh, but also to engage in conversations about the potential effects that longer lives might have on our workplaces, our homes and ourselves.”

Players control the game’s character with arrow keys and the spacebar. Every day the character goes to work, and if he survives the day, he returns home with points. If he doesn’t make it home, he loses points.  But if he chooses to stay home, no more points can be earned. The goal of the game is to collect as many points as possible, but to what end?

Failures on the job have disastrous consequences for the character in Endless Life.

Said Dr. Monica Evans, assistant professor in the ATEC program and project supervisor, “The wonderful thing about Endless Life is that it tackles very serious subjects – namely, our quality of life and our sometimes irrational fear of untimely death – with humor. A lot of that humor comes through in the game’s numerous animations, so we’re very lucky to have such talented students in that field.”

The Values Game Initiative is a project intended to create and develop serious games that further the mission and themes of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology at UT Dallas. These games are designed to teach and explore pressing issues through new models for digital education. The games tie into the Center’s Incite Your Curiosity lectures, a series focused on the possibilities and implications of human enhancement. The first game to be produced, Marching Ever Onward, first appeared on the Center for Values website Sept. 20.

The game design team, made up of 16 graduate and undergraduate ATEC students who serve roles from animator to sound designer to programmer, aims to produce the remaining games by the end of the lecture series in April.