IIT Madras Students Develop Multi-Lingual Digital Game to Create Awareness about COVID-19

Chennai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras Students have developed a digital game “IITM Covid Game” to create awareness among the general public, particularly children, on the importance of following governmental precautions to safeguard themselves against COVID-19.

This game is browser-based and can be played on any several devices including Personal Computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones, among others. The game is available free of cost and can be played from the home page of www.letsplaytolearn.com. It is also available in the website of IIT Madras under https://dost.iitm.ac.in/iitmdost/pages/game-corner

Based on initial prototyping and feedback from different audiences, the students team translated the game to several Indian Regional languages to improve its reach. Apart from English, the game is already available in 12 languages – Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. The students plan to make the game available in more regional games in the future.

This game was created by students who took a nine-credit elective course called ‘Let’s Play To Learn’ offered during the January-May 2020 Semester, in which students were taught game-based learning tools and techniques. Prof. Preeti Aghalayam, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, and Mr. Kartic Vaidyanathan, Founder, LetsPlayToLearn and an IIT Madras Alumnus (B.Tech (Mechanical Engineering) 1996), were the co-facilitators for this general elective course.

Highlighting about the unique aspects of this game-based approach to creating awareness, Prof. Preeti Aghalayam, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, said, “The full credit for this game goes to our students. It is a matter of great pride for me that they conceived this, at a time when the world was reeling under the pandemic. The IITM Covid game is a small but very meaningful & engaging contribution, and it clearly exhibits how thoughtful and aware our students are!”

The students who took the course ‘Let’s Play To Learn’ team felt the need to not only spread awareness but also convey the message in a fun-filled method, applying their learnings in this elective.

The game takes inspiration from the famous ‘Super Mario’ game and consists of a character who encounters various right things – like masks, washing hands and also encounters things to be avoided – like hugs, handshakes. As the character does the right things, points keep getting added. If the character fails to avoid a wrong thing, points get deducted to highlight the consequence. The game goes on for 1 minute and the players should aim for maximum points.

Speaking about students’ learnings from this elective, Mr. Kartic Vaidyanathan, Founder, LetsPlayToLearn and an IIT Madras Alumnus, said, “Students applied the concepts and created a number of game design prototypes that are relevant in general for science and engineering courses (Aircraft design, Tissue engineering, Circuits, Buildings and structures, among other fields), and can be used in IIT Madras courses.”

The mission of Mr. Kartic Vaidyanathan’s organization – www.letsplaytolearn.com – is to enable joyful learning through the power of play for corporate firms and educational institutions. The collaboration with the students and faculty of IIT Madras is providing great impetus to these initiatives, Mr. Kartic Vaidyanathan added.