October 5, 2007 / 8:02 PM / 10 years ago

Booze Cruise video game gives teens reality check

TORONTO (Reuters)- The Canadian developers of a video game that simulates drunk driving hope it will make teenagers think twice about getting behind the wheel after a night of heavy drinking.

The game, aptly named 'Booze Cruise,' was developed by Jim Parker, a digital-media professor at the University of Calgary, and a number of his students as a school project.

"The basic story is that this person is absolutely pissed and woke up in the trunk of their car and now is going to drive home," Parker said.

The player, with vision narrowed and blurred and reaction times slowed to mimic the reality of driving drunk, has 90 seconds to get home while navigating past obstacles that include pedestrians, other cars and a police checkpoint.

"And then just for fun, we put distractions on the side of the road, like pink elephants," Parker said.

Police in Calgary, Alberta, provided input as the team researched the game, trying to make it as realistic as possible. They also have high hopes for Booze Cruise.

"I think it's going to be a great tool," said Const. Rob Haffner of the Calgary Police Service. "Whatever education that we can get out there is always going to be beneficial as far as drinking and driving goes."

Parker said the design team hopes to get funding to finish a more complete version before letting schools and police get their hands on the game.

While many teens are familiar with driving video games, Parker said the hope is that this one will persuade them that alcohol will affect their skills.

"This is aimed not at adults, this is aimed at people who are 13 to 16," he said. "We want to stop them from doing it in advance."

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