The aim of my project is to create a virtual trainer for windsurfing. The skill of sailing
applies to several individual sports, and once mastered can be applied to all. I have been a US
Sailing Windsurfing Instructor for ten years and have seen the positives and negatives of the current
instructional methods. I also have worked for several companies developing military training
simulators, and have been studying video game theory and design for the past few years. These
influences have inspired me to bridge the gap of classroom learning and on the water learning for
windsurfing with a virtual trainer (serious game).
I propose to teach the Points of Sail through a first person video game experience. Points of
sail is a universal sailing theory that applies to all sailing sports. It revolves around reading the
direction of the wind and sailing on an angle in reference to that wind. It's works much the same as
locating north with a compass and hiking at an angle relative to the compass' readings. I propose to
combine elements of the current paper-based instruction on points of sail and the experience of first
person simulation to create a single tool that provides both of these teaching tools at once. This tool
will be design for windsurfing but the lessons and mechanics will be applicable to all sailing crafts.
The user will control a windsurfer in first person view within CE3. The view will be the same as
real life, with the user's view free but the body restricted. This will provide a similar “feel” to real
life windsurfing. A head's up display (HUD) in the game will display similar graphics to the
diagrams that are used in the current instructional book material. A top-down view of the
windsurfer will be shown in a compass-like setup that has “north” as the wind direction. The sail
will move depending on the user's input for steering, and the board will turn as a reaction to the sail
control. This top-down view is the current visual tool for teaching points of sail on paper. HUD's
are a common feature in most video games. Users are used to filtering the information given by the
HUD while playing the game. Combining this with the realism of a first person experience will
help the user to process all of the different information involved in the points of sail. This setup
will engage the user in a reading-while-doing method of learning.
Windsurfing is a sport that falls into many categories. It is family friendly but also an
extreme sport. There is no age, size, or physical ability limits to the sport. It is far more accessible
than sailing a boat. Yet unfortunately many people are scared off by its seemingly complex nature.
Windsurfing is a niche sport in America due to misconception. In the constant effort to spread the
sport and make it more accessible to people there has been little done in the field of instruction.
Current instructional methods are certainly adequate and thorough in their presentation and ability
to teach, but they are limited by their analogue delivery. Students must either sit on land and read a
book, or travel to a location with an experienced professional during ideal conditions. A book can
only go so far in a physical sport, and location and conditions may never be ideal or possible in
certain areas. Add the need for a trained professional and there is quite a limited supply of learning
opportunities. A virtual trainer would not only bridge the gap between these two instruction
methods, but also be infinitely available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. A landlocked person in
the mountains could process more information than a simple book can deliver, and know everything
except the feel of power in the sail, before heading off to vacation at a sailing resort.
The current instructional methods are static and not easily adapted to unique situations. A
virtual learning space would allow ultimate control on the part of the instructor. This kind of
control would allow for much easier adaptation to unusual circumstances.
Digital Arts and Sciences terminal project
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