Mine Avoiders – A Landmine Awareness & Education Game

On top of being an AIGA member, Kenan Zekic is a designer and educator from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has more than twenty years of professional multidisciplinary design experience, with his work having been exhibited across Italy, Croatia, Serbia, South Korea, Iran, and UK. His particular interest is developing design solutions for underdeveloped communities. Interestingly enough, he also designing the first Bosnian National Currency Coin after the Bosnian War in the early 90’s.

Zekic is currently spending the 2016-2017 academic year, at Penn State University, at the Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program/Fulbright Exchange Activity. During this time, specifically October 2016, Kenan began a research project focusing on creating impactful design through gamification concepts. The projects’ focus was to be an educational video game for children, ages 6 – 10, about landmines. Specifically, landmines leftover from the Bosnian War in the period 1992 – 1995. As of 2013, landmines and UXO’s (unexploded ordnances) remain scattered across 28,700 locations, or 2.5 %, of Bosnia and Herzegovina territory.

This idea came to Kenan when he saw the warning issued by the Local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) for Pokémon Go players to stay away from the landmine fields while chasing Pokémon. Kenan’s vision also derives from his experiences with working for the Dissemination Department of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). One of his first professional design tasks, was creating games and dissemination material for children about the threat of landmines and UXO’s in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Now, Kenan is developing a model that focuses on landmine education and awareness while building a foundation for technology literacy in underdeveloped areas. Although Bosnia and Herzegovina is the starting point, Kenan envisions this project being scaled across any country or region that is infected with landmines.

After much research and development, Zekic has designed and tested many versions of the Mine Avoiders Board Game, from game mechanics to overall playability. This was the starting point for developing the digital prototype. In the Fall Semester 2016, Kenan approached Prof. Andrew Hyeronimi and Prof. Carlos Rosas from Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, about creating digital version of the game along with their students. “Without the tremendous help of Andrew, Carlos and their students in the course Collaboration Design Studio… this project would not get this far so fast”, says Zekic. Twenty students were divided into teams working cooperatively on different parts of Mine Avoiders game: Art/Design, Coding, Research, Documentation and Game Mechanics.  Now as of April 2017, the Mine Avoiders Game has reached its final phase of development. Testing the first digital prototype.

The project is far from finished, but Kenan hopes that this project will get support from International Agencies and Organizations who are working with education and awareness about landmines. These Organizations have the power and resources to support a project of this scale, developing a tool that has the potential to reach and educate countless children on landmine survival and awareness.

By Ryaan Beck
Published May 2, 2017
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