U.S. army testing Calgary video game that replicates drunk driving

Jim Parker, a computer science professor at the University of Calgary, stands in front of an image from the video game Booze Cruise. (Ken Bendiktsen, University of Calgary)

A video game developed at the University of Calgary that simulates driving while drunk has attracted the attention of the U.S. army.

Jim Parker, a computer science professor at the University of Calgary, dreamed up the game Booze Cruise with some of his students.

Players can decide how impaired they want to be by typing in their weight and how many drinks they have had. Then they have 90 seconds to manipulate a car around the screen to home base, but their reactions can be delayed and their vision blurred.

“You control the car, navigate down the roads, but there are things on the road and there are police cars, and there are obstacles and pedestrians so you don’t want to hit things,” Parker said.

Last summer, Parker was contacted by the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Centre, which said it wanted to try the game out on soldiers who have been in Iraq.

“They are evaluating the game at this minute,” Parker said.

“I think the difficulty is re-adapting to civilized behaviors in North America and becoming re-acquainted with driving laws and the norms of our society. So this game is intended to really show them that while it is possible to drink and drive, you can’t do it safely.”

A spokesman for the centre in Fort Rucker, Ala. said they are still testing the game and haven’t decided exactly how it will be used.

Parker said the U.S. military is paying for modifications of the game, but he says it was never intended to become a commercial product. Parker wants the game to be available free to schools, as well as groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.


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