BYU students create election game to educate


Sitting on his PlayStation, Casey Deans promises himself he will get back to his schoolwork soon.

He hits the jump button again. Mitt Romney made him do it. Onto the next level he goes. Playing as Romney, Deans treks through BYU’s campus and onto his presidential election.  Hours pass, and he is still playing — but his schoolwork is done.

For some, gaming is a fun way to pass time. For others, it is an addiction. For Deans it is also a way to educate and teach. Deans is taking English 326: Digital Culture and, with the help of students Grace Kim and Brandon Healy, is bringing the campus of BYU, and its most famous alumnus, Mitt Romney, to the gaming world.

Using the PlayStation 3 game “Little Big Planet 2,” with the tagline of “Play, Create, Share,” players are able to create levels within the game and then share it with others. While anybody is able to do this, Deans and his group have put a BYU twist to their levels.

Healy, Kim and Deans all created their own level within the game with themes that resonate with students of BYU. The name of the character in the game is “Sackboy Romney,” named, of course, after Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

“Sackboy” is the generic character on “Little Big Planet 2” and is just that, a boy made of sack. Creators can change his clothing as they like. Hence the reason Romney’s character is known as “Sackboy Romney.”

“In my level, I do one of BYU campus with a few of the urban legends that BYU has,” said Kim. “Once you start the game, the character Sackboy Romney will climb up ‘rape hill’ and head into campus. You will see pictures of buildings. You will see the new building that BYU is building towards the end, and will jump into the next segment of the game. In that segment Sackboy Romney will be able to find a hidden ‘basement’ that will take you to the food storage room and a jail that is hidden underneath the ASB. That’s the basic layout of BYU campus.”

While levels include such iconic BYU buildings such as the ASB and WILK, there are scenes of Romney’s mission experience that will also resonate with students.

“My scene is a flashback where we find Sackboy Romney on a mission in France,” said Healy. “He has a sackbot mission companion who follows him wherever he goes. From the airport to major historical sites like the Eiffel Tower, Sackboy Romney frees converts, who follow him to the finish line. The more converts survive the obstacles of the platformer, the more points the player receives at the end. This prepares Romney Sackboy for level 3, ‘The Campaign.'”

“Students can access the videos of the game through the blog or Youtube,” said Deans. “To play the game, people need the game and a PS3. Also, it helps if people have those things that they send me a friend request. My PSN ID is ‘Coloradan.'”

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