MARCH 2024

In a groundbreaking collaboration, students have harnessed their technical and creative prowess to tackle a serious health issue: testicular cancer awareness.

Partnering with the non-profit foundation Love Your Nuts (LYN), second-year IIE Game Design and Development students at IIE-Vega embarked on a mission to educate and empower the next generation while raising awareness about this oft-overlooked cancer.

Testicular cancer primarily affects young men, typically between the ages of 15 and 44. Empowering this age group with knowledge about self-examinations and risk factors is crucial.

The LYN Foundation was started by Torsten Koehler, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in his early thirties, ironically whilst educating young teenagers about sex education at a school where he was employed as a teacher.

His journey of survival gave birth to his book, Love your nuts, first published in German in 2004 and thereafter in English in 2011.

The motivation to start the LYN Foundation was inspired by a former student who was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 16, and who credits Koehler with his survival at that young age.

In tackling the challenge to design a game to raise awareness of testicular cancer, and armed with the understanding that knowledge and early detection are potent weapons against cancer, participating students enthusiastically embraced the challenge set forth by LYN for the campaign: to create witty, fun, and educational games that shed light on testicular cancer. Their mission was clear—to engage young minds and break down taboos.

The Winning Game: Cancer Crusher

The team from IIE-Vega Durban emerged victorious with their game, aptly named Cancer Crusher. Led by students Matthew Rall, Keagan Du Plessis, Liam Schultz, and Wesley Clark, along with navigator Kuleza Phiri, they crafted an interactive experience that combines entertainment with vital information. Players navigate through challenges, learning about testicular health, self-examinations, and early detection—all while having a blast.

The joint runners-up from IIE-Pretoria and IIE-Vega Cape Town were also extremely pleased with their results. IIE-Vega Cape Town presented Nano Blast, a game that engages players in a microscopic adventure, unraveling the mysteries of testicular health. IIE-Vega Pretoria introduced Testi Tales, that educates players about the importance of early detection and self-care.

“This collaboration exemplifies the holistic approach that students of today need to employ, from initial concept to impactful design. By leveraging their creative talents and strategic thinking, these students are not only building a better future for themselves but also illuminating the path toward healthier communities,” says Henk Scheepers, Head: Game Design & Development at IIE-Vega.

“This also shows that games have a wider application than mere entertainment. They have a unique ability to engage players actively, and by integrating educational content into gameplay, we can reach a broader audience. Interactive Learning allow players to actively participate in their education. Whether it’s navigating a virtual world or solving puzzles, engagement fosters better retention of information. And players remember experiences associated with emotions. A well-designed game can create emotional connections, making the information stick.”

Love your Nuts App

Inspired by the educational focus of Love Your Nuts, Koehler says he now aims to launch the Love Your Nuts App. In its prototype phase, this app will provide South African youth with vital information and support related to testicular health. By transforming awareness into a fun gaming experience, the app aims to empower the next generation to take charge of their well-being.

“Our mission is to empower the youth with knowledge, break down taboos, and encourage early detection. By combining creativity, technology, and compassion, we believe we can create a healthier future—one where testicular cancer is not only understood but actively prevented. The student-developed games are a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in this endeavour,” Koehler says.

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