A power line was down, turning the
lake into waves of lethal electricity. So students
turned back to find a hidden key that would shut
off the electricity and make the lake safe to
cross. Jack, however, wasn’t having much luck
finding his way around the cavernous mine fraught
with deadly danger. With every misstep, every
delay, the miners’ lives hung in the balance.
The clock ticked.
Luckily for the miners- and for
Jack – the predicament sprung from imagination.
It was the stuff of three-dimensional computer
animation and mind-blowing visual.
Jack, who emerged from his quandary
without a scratch and with all smiles, had stepped
into the world of virtual reality
With virtual reality, the player
straps on high-tech headgear that gives the illusion
he is in a real-life three –dimensional environment,
experiencing sights and sounds emanating from
The program VRQuest™, begun five
years ago by Warren Black at in Bayside Middle
School for the Arts and Technology, Calif., is
run by VR Quest of , . It will be offered again
at OMSI this summer, said Matt Miller, OMSI science
On Friday, the students were busy
testing the game and adding finishing touches,
such as flames and falling rocks, to make it more
exciting. Today, the students will explain their
creations to OMSI visitors.
The goal of the game, which the
students named "600 Feet Under," is
to rescue eight miners – who are actually the
eight students – trapped in a collapsed mine.
Using the digital camera, the students
inserted their images into the game. So as the
rescuer makes his way through the mine, he encounters
"miners" wearing T-shirts and baggy
jeans – attire better suited for strolling at
the mall than mining for gold, diamonds or coal.
During the first tow days, the students
brainstormed the concept, storyline and environment
of the mine.
There is no "blood or guts"
in the game, even though the students built it
using "Quake," a down to its frame to
build their kinder, gentler game.
The students worked in teams of
two to produce four levels, each more difficult
than the last.
"I made the first level,"
said Glen Lawrence, 12, of Fernwood Middle School.
"You enter the mine and you save two people.
Then there’s the electrified lake."
Robert Averill, 14, who attends
Community Christian middle School in Tigard, was
among the more experienced students. He used one
of four computers at home to produce a short movie
by connecting the computer with the family VCR.
Dietrich, a student at Winterhaven
Alternative School, also has a fair amount of
computer experience. He worked on levels three
and four with Robert.
"This is really neat,"
he said of the OMSI program. "It will be
fun to see the finished product."