Dubai: A Dubai school boy has released a video game that focuses on protection against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mohammed Yaseen Hafiz, 17, developed the game named The Outbreak Guardian and got it released on Steam—the largest online game releasing platform recently.
A grade 12 student of Al Diyafah High School in Dubai, Mohammed Yaseen had been selected as a young innovator by Expo 2020 Dubai earlier. He said his game, apart from offering fun and adventure, aims to distract young gamers from violence and motivate them to be socially responsible.
“The game tries to give people a snapshot of how the pandemic is managed in the real world,” the Indian expat boy told Gulf News.
“Kids can understand the process, what efforts the authorities are taking to keep us all safe. Maybe it will help change their (players’) perspective.”
What is it about
The Outbreak Guardian is a third-person open-world 3D game where the player is in charge to keep the COVID-19 cases in the imaginary city of Patriam under control, by managing the city’s medical resources, which involves delivering equipment and some skilled driving.
“This is a 3D racing, exploration and strategy game. Usually it takes a team of minimum three persons or more people working together for more than two years,” said Mohammed Yaseen who developed the game in one-and-a-half years.
The game has different checkpoints where you can replenish sanitisers, buy cars, car tools and more. There is a sanitising beam which can be used while driving to target the viruses around you. There are field hospitals, vaccine research centres and vaccine delivery services to hospitals.
“The most successful pattern in managing the pandemic is the storyline of the game. The emergence of variants over time increases the difficulty as the game progresses,” explained Mohammed Yaseen.
By delivering necessary items like ventilators, hygiene equipment, PPE kits, etc to hospitals, you help keep the pandemic under control.
Though he had made another mobile game for fun, Mohammed Yaseen said this was the first one that he got commercially released.
It all had started when he got a micro-controller start kit that is used to develop circuits and write programmes.
“When I worked on it, I got interested. Then I learnt more about software development and coding from a book with the kit. I used YouTube videos also,” said the eldest of three siblings who are actively into game developing now.
Inspired by UAE
It was during the lockdown period of the pandemic that Mohammed Yaseen focused on developing the game. The UAE’s proactive approach in managing the pandemic by setting up field hospitals and isolation centres and aggressively administering vaccines inspired him, he said.
His experience in creating the Smart Uniform Checker, which got him cash prizes from government and educational entities stood him in good stead.
“It (the checker) was a prototype that used AI-based image recognition. It was used for checking if workers wear safety gears prescribed as per their jobs and allow them entry to work sites only if they clear the checking.”
Mohammed Yaseen has won several other accolades and prizes for various robotic projects from different entities. At Expo 2020 Dubai, he made a prototype of a search boat which could be used incidents in like the Thailand cave rescue in 2018.
He plans to release the Outbreak Guardian, currently available on Steam for Windows, on iOS platform too. He is also working on the game’s Arabic and other local language versions as updates.
Meanwhile, his 12-year-old brother Omar Nabeel Hafiz has also released a game—Brain Tilt Ball Maze-on android. The brain exercise game is a stress reliever and improves the concentration and fine motor skills of the young and the elderly, says the grade seven student at Al Amana Private School in Sharjah.
The overall branding of the siblings’ projects is handled by their only sister Fidda Naureen Hafiz, 14, a grade nine student in the same school.
The siblings said their father Hafiz Mohammed, chief consultant with a project management company and mother Aneesha Abidabeevi, a nutritionist-turned-homemaker, offer full support to them.