UW student creates web-based trivia game to fight COVID-19 misinformation | #students | #parents

Quarantrivia has players answer trivia style questions to challenge their misconceptions

With the COVID-19 lockdown coming into effect in Ontario in mid-March, many in the region were pressed to find interesting ways to occupy their growing amount of free time. One University of Waterloo student chose to put her passion into a resource to help combat the misinformation regarding the COVID-19 virus.

Speaking as a guest on 570 NEWS’ Kitchener Today on Tuesday, Bachelor of Science student Ridhi Patel said the motivation behind the web-based trivia game, titled Quarantrivia, came from her own interests in gaming.

“It’s a way to learn information in a captivating way to me. I really like gaming and… if information is presented in a way that’s fun for people to learn, I think they’re much more inclined to actually learn the information.”

The trivia game has players take the role of Dr. Pixel, a mask-wearing hero that uses various factual articles to destroy viruses – with the goal of saving the Pixel World from a newfound virus. Players are challenged by rounds of multiple-choice trivia, with incorrect answers leading to information and resources that help bolster the user’s understanding of the virus. The questions posed to players vary from more basic, general knowledge surrounding COVID-19 to factors affecting the spread of the disease, symptoms, common conspiracy theories and social distancing practices.

Patel says that Quarantrivia originally came to her as a project to help her younger peers and children understand what COVID-19 was and the ways to navigate around the new normal of life during a pandemic. In speaking with friends and family, and drawing upon her own experiences, Patel realized the potential for a gamified information resource.

“Even at the beginning I was wondering if I should purchase an N95 mask or just go with cloth masks (…) I think early on a lot of these things were very unclear” says Patel. “I have definitely had talks with people where they would be quite unsure about some of the simpler things, like if you should be wearing a mask when going outside or not.”

While most would have found themselves with more free time during lockdown, Patel was concerned that some may not make the effort to read online articles about COVID-19, take the information and apply it to their day-to-day lives. In creating a game-based resource, Patel says players may be more incentivized to challenge their misconceptions.

“I thought that the game approach would be best suited for a lot of people right now because they have a lot of time on their hands (…) a web app-based game to me was the fastest way to get to everybody…”

Patel created the game with the support of the Faculty of Science and U.W. Associate Professor Jozef Nissimov – an environmental microbiologist and an aquatic virus ecologist. Quarantrivia uses information from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Government of Canada.

With over four-hundred users so far, Patel has been keeping track of the average score for the game. She says most players are doing well in the multiple rounds of trivia, and that she’s pleased that most people seem to know the more basic information surrounding COVID-19.

Patel’s goal is to continue to update Quarantrivia, with an update of stage three reopening questions coming to the game as early as next week.


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