Solution Overview

Solution Name:

Arctic Quest - A VR Experience

One-line solution summary:

Arctic Quest is a virtual reality game used to introduce players to the cultures and lifestyles of Alaska Native people.

Pitch your solution.

This game would:

  • Introduce a global audience to various cultures of the Arctic including Gwich’in (and other Athabascan groups), Inupiaq and Yupik communities 
  • Could gamify subsistence activities, winter and summer sports, and even teach various real world traditional skills
  • Engage Native and other youth in physical movement during indoor winter months or inclement weather
  • Help reduce chronic pain in patients

In this game players, ages 13 and over, will be able to navigate through Arctic-themed activities in various Alaskan locales. Gamers would be able to learn and compete in activities like cross country skiing, dog racing, ski-joring (skiing while being pulled by dogs), snowmobile racing, trap-line setting, fishing and more. Users could be immersed in stunning vistas such as Denali National Park, the White Mountains or the Yukon Flats Wildlife Refuge promoting conservation efforts. Currently there are no VR games focused solely on the Arctic.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Alaska Native youth experience a higher than average rate of obesity (27%) and diabetes (3 times) than of their White peers. Only 19% of youth nationally get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day. In the Arctic, it is challenging to engage in physical activities during winter months and inclement weather. "Arctic Quest" would enable users, utilizing the Oculus Quest, a standalone virtual reality headset, to engage in favorite activities and explore new ones. The game would introduce not only Native youth but a global gaming community to traditional Arctic and Alaska Native activities. By gamifying physical fitness, outcomes could include improved physical well-being and weight loss. Studies have also shown a reduction in chronic pain when a patient is immersed in virtual reality featuring cold environments. Exposure to Arctic lifestyles and environments could also help foster appreciation for the Arctic that could promote conservation efforts.

What is your solution?

"Arctic Quest - A Virtual Reality Experience" is a game for the Oculus system, a standalone VR headset and controllers that enables users to be immersed in virtual reality experiences. The system can be used either seated or standing with a series of boundaries (Guardians) set by the unit (up to 10'x10'). The game can utilize both computer-generated imagery and 360 degree panoramic video to engage the user in the game environment. VR games available for the Oculus system generally are created using Unity or Unreal software.

Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit?

"Arctic Quest" benefits not only the Alaska Native youth community for which it is designed, but all other players interested in the Arctic environment. Features of the game would help Native youth develop skills relating to traditional activities like trapping and dog mushing while helping them to improve their physical fitness. Many Alaska Native youth do not get to experience traditional activities due to a variety of reasons (no longer practiced by family, problems relating to substance use, etc.). This game would introduce them to some of the outdoor activities that their ancestors relied on for their subsistence lifestyle. The game would also allow a global audience to gain an appreciation for the Arctic and its inhabitants.

Which dimension of the Fellowship does your solution most closely address?

Improve healthcare access and outcomes, including around mental health and substance use disorders

Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

The Indigenous Communities Fellowship supports Indigenous people using "cutting edge technology and ancestral knowledge to provide their people with the best life possible." As a Gwich'in woman who grew up in the remote Alaska Native village of Fort Yukon and is raising two sons who are engaged in several online gaming communities, this solution is ideal to improving physical outcomes for youth who are game-focused, and for fostering protections of our fragile Arctic ecosystems.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Fairbanks, AK, USA

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Concept: An idea being explored for its feasibility to build a product, service, or business model based on that idea.

Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution.

This product is in the conceptual development stage. Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry. There isn't a studio in Alaska available to produce this game so I am in discussions with the eSports Coordinator at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to develop this game idea. I have experience in web design, graphic design and marketing as well as having been raised with Gwich'in traditions in rural Alaska and am in a unique position of understanding the culture and being familiar with other Alaska cultures and tribes as well as with technology. Funding is needed to begin design development.

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Stephanie Hinz

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your primary delegate.

Native Village of Fort Yukon (Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich'in Tribal Government)

Is your primary delegate a member of the community in which your project is based?


Solution Team

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