AFTER is a disaster training program for high schoolers, disguised as an AR (Augmented Reality) app and game. Through playing the game, teens in Red Hook (the most highly-impacted NYC neighborhood after Hurricane Sandy) learn where to go for help, and where to find relevant resources in their neighborhood in case of natural disaster. The game was designed by second-year students Benjamin Bartlett, Yangying Ye, John Boran Jr., Phuong Anh Nguyen & Gustav Dyrhauge.

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AFTER uses AR to make disaster relief training fun for high schoolers, turning them into potential guides for their community in case of an emergency situation.

In addition to empowering them with knowledge of their surroundings—knowledge they acquire through game play—AFTER turns them into potential guides for others in their community during a stressful emergency situation.

The group drew a lot of inspiration from Pokémon GO, the AR location-based treasure hunt app, which was already widely enjoyed by their target audience. “Pokémon GO had already figured out a lot for us in terms of usability. We really played off of the game’s frameworks in order to give our own app a shortcut to working easily and resonating with our users,” the team shared.

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Site visits in Red Hook (the most highly-impacted area in NYC during Hurricane Sandy) provided insight into how users of the app might interact with their environment. After deciding on gamification as their direction, the team organized a play test with Red Hook high schoolers. “The participants revealed to us that our original game was too easy to beat, and we realized it was because the frame of the game was more like a to-do list rather than an explorative and interactive game,” the designers shared. “Thus, we hid the identity of all support services, and turned them into an unlocking system.”

Through employing four different software platforms to create the game (from developing the back end with Unity and working with MapBox, to prototyping with Torch AR and InVision), the team gained valuable insights in building for immersive experience.

“Overall, technology was the largest hurdle to overcome, but the most significant success was that we developed our final proposal based on research and going back to users all the time during the project. We learned a lo t, but the most important thing was that “Who What When Why How” are always stuck in our minds and Who, our users, are our priority that we, as a designer, will never leave them out.”