Fredericton — Two computer science students from UNB have developed a video game designed to help young men stuck at home due to the pandemic by offering them an opportunity to interact with others and release some pent-up frustration.
Ryan Wilson and Samir Verma realized there would be a need for such a game the moment bars shut their doors to the public in mid-March.
“Before COVID-19, I really enjoyed going out on the weekends with my buddies,” stated Wilson. “Inevitably, a fight would always break out in the Tannery after the bars closed. With the shut-downs, I realized that heterosexual young men can still flirt with women on dating apps, but I wondered how the fights could still continue. That’s when Samir and I came up with the idea for Tannery Takedown©.”
“The way it works is first you complete a short questionnaire to give the algorithm a sense of your worldview,” explained Verma. “Based on your answers, the game pairs you with someone whose views differ vastly from your own and it assigns both of you an avatar. The avatar will be either a rural New Brunswicker, a young army buck, or a beefed-up gym monkey.
“You then have a few moments to debate hot topics with your opponent. Finally, through an integration with Tinder, the two of you swipe through photos until you both match with the same girl. Then, it’s fight time!”
According to Wilson, in a simulated Tannery environment users can punch and kick their opponent in front of a crowd of onlookers. The first one to knock the other out before the cops arrive will unlock a feature which allows them to chat with their desired Tinder match.
Local security guard James Agnew was one of the first people to test the game.
“I thought it was great. I got paired with this guy from Geary, a real redneck, I bet. He said he thought the pandemic was overblown and he didn’t practise physical distancing. As you can imagine, things got heated. Then, we both swiped right on this chick Angelina, and next thing you know, we were fighting over her outside of a virtual Dolan’s at 2 a.m. Meanwhile, I was at home drunk on Alpine and eating delivery from Jack’s Pizza. It felt just like the real thing!”
The game is currently available on the PlayStation® Store for $19.99. If it’s profitable, Wilson and Verma plan to make more versions available for cities across the province.
“We currently have a Saint John prototype,” stated Verma. “The questionnaire will focus largely on income disparity in the city and pollution from the mill. Users will then be assigned an avatar that’s either a rich Rothesay dweller or a blue-collar Irving worker. It’ll be interesting to see how those arguments play out in front of virtual O’Leary’s.”
Wilson concluded, “With most young men owning PlayStations®, the game is widely accessible and very affordable. Of course we’ll make the real profit by collecting users’ data to sell to marketers, but no one really cares about that.”