Table of contents

    About Sea Hero Quest

    What is Sea Hero Quest?

    Sea Hero Quest is a mobile game designed to help researchers to understand the mental process of 3D navigation, which is one of the first skills lost in dementia.

    The plot of the game involves a sea journey taken by a son in a quest to recover the memories his father has lost to dementia.

    There are three sections: navigation, shooting flares to test orientation, and chasing creatures. Each has been carefully crafted to be as fun and exciting as it is scientifically valid.

    As players play the game, their game-play data is collected and can be accessed and analysed by researchers.

    The history of Sea Hero Quest

    Sea Hero Quest started out in 2016 as a citizen science project to help scientists understand navigational abilities across the life course. Available for the public to play on mobile and in virtual reality, Sea Hero Quest was the first mass market game that allowed people to take part in scientific research on such a large scale.  

    Learn more about the success of the original Sea Hero Quest.

    The new Sea Hero Quest for researchers 

    Although the free consumer version was removed from app stores when the original project concluded, Sea Hero Quest has proven to be an invaluable tool for answering further questions in dementia research and other fields.  

    In this relaunch of Sea Hero Quest, we have teamed up with Glitchers games, University College London, the University of East Anglia, and Boldlight to develop a bespoke version for researchers to create and fully manage prospective studies, as well as access data in real time from an existing study. 

    Who can play Sea Hero Quest? 

    This 2021 version of Sea Hero Quest is primarily for scientists to use the app as part of their research into cognition and spatial navigation. Only people invited by researchers to be part of a study will receive a participation code from the researchers to play the game. 

    After creating a project on the Sea Hero Quest portal, researchers can invite a targeted group of participants to play Sea Hero Quest and generate data about their spatial navigation capabilities. Those invited to play the game will be sent a unique participant key, generated by the Sea Hero Quest system according to the criteria and requirements of a specific project.

    The Sea Hero Quest Portal

    The portal is primarily for researchers who would like to set up a study using game data from Sea Hero Quest or access data from an existing study. The portal can be accessed here.

    Roles and Permissions

    Project creator

    • can create new projects
    • are automatically given Admin access and made the default Project lead on any projects they create

    To become a Project creator, click ‘you can register here’ at the portal homepage to go to the registration page and fill in the form to request access to the portal. The request will be reviewed by the portal admins, to ensure the project is a bona fide research projectOnce this is approved you will be able to create your own projects and manage access to those projects. 

    Project contact

    • can access the data set of a project they have been added to
    • can be optionally granted Admin access or made the Project lead

    3rd Party access

    • can only access the data set of a project

    Admin access

    A Project contact that is granted Admin access for a project can manage the other users on that project.

    This allows them to:

    Project lead

    This is an administrative label that shows who is the main point of contact for the project.

    Each project must have one Project lead.

    When a project is created, the Project creator is automatically assigned as the Project lead.

    When a project has multiple Project contacts, a different Project lead can be assigned through the Project contacts tab.

    The Project lead must be either the Project creator or a Project contact that has Admin access to the project.

    Accessing the portal

    Registration and login

    The portal can be accessed here:

    For Project creators, click ‘register here’ to go to the registration page and fill in the form to request access to the portal. Once this is approved you will be able to create your own projects and manage access to those projects.

    Email invitation

    When you are added to a project, you will receive an email with a link to access the project through the portal.

    If you are added as a Project contact

    You can access the data set of a project you have been added to.

    You can optionally be assigned Admin access to manage the users on the project.

    If you are given 3rd party access

    You can access a study’s data set without permissions to manage the project or see the other project contacts.

    If you wish to create your own project

    If you are added to a project as a Project contact or are granted 3rd party access, but wish to create your own projects, you can request permissions by contacting an administrator using the link at the top of the portal.

    Once you are granted permission you will see the Create a project button on the ‘Your projects’ page of the portal.

    Creating a project

    Project details

    This section gives the context for your study, such as the disease type you are studying and the demographic participating in your study. This data allows datasets from multiple studies to be utilised in a structured way.

    To create a new project, you will need to supply a written project description as a Word document. You can download the pro-forma project description document from the link on the form.

    The ‘sample size’ value determines the number of Participant keys that will be generated for the project.

    Game levels

    The game levels selected will determine which levels participants are asked to play when they use their Participant key to launch the Sea Hero Quest game.

    There are four different types of game levels:

    Tutorial levelLevels 1 and 2
    • Mandatory
    • Give player guidance on how to play the game
    Flare levelLevels 4, 9, 14… etc
    • Every fifth level from Level 4
    No Data levelLevels 5, 10, 15… etc
    • No data collected
    Checkpoint levelAll other levels
    • Regular game-play levels
    • Game data collected
    Bonus radial maze level
    • Optional


    The game levels that are selected for a project cannot be altered after the project has been created. To assign different game levels a new project must be created.

    Project contact details

    This section allows you to grant access to the project at the point of creating the project.

    Optionally, these Project contacts can be given Admin access to manage the project.

    Project contacts can also be added later, to an existing project, by going to Your projects  > View  > Project contacts  > Add a new contact.

    3rd party access

    To give a 3rd party access to the dataset from your study, you can add their email address to the 3rd party access section of the Create a project form. This will email them a link to access the portal. Once they sign in with their login details the project will appear for them on the ‘Your projects’ screen with a heading of ‘3rd party access projects’.

    3rd party access to a project can also be added later, to an existing project, by going to Your projects  > View  > 3rd party access

    Participant consent  

    Prior to setting up a project in the Sea Hero Quest portal, researchers must obtain consent from research participants, disclosing the nature, purpose, and duration of the research, as well as the procedures, risks, and benefits to the participants.  

    See an example study consent form. 

    Participant keys

    What are they?

    When setting up a project you enter a sample size for your study and the Sea Hero Quest game levels you wish participants to play.

    Upon creating the project these details are used to create Participant keys that can be used, by the study participants, to play the assigned levels on Sea Hero Quest.

    Download keys

    Upon successful creation of a project, download the keys by clicking the ‘Get keys’ button.

    The keys are also available to download at any point by going to Your projects > Click ‘View’ on the project > Project overview.

    The Participant keys for a project are downloaded as a .csv file.

    Upon accessing the Sea Hero Quest game, each participant will be asked to enter their Participant key to play the game. The game-play data for that Participant key is then made available in the portal.

    Generate additional keys

    You can generate additional keys by going to Your projects  > Click ‘View’ on the project  > Project overview.

    Generating additional keys will automatically increase the ‘Estimated sample size’ of the project details, to match the number of keys that have been generated for the project.

    The Participant keys for a project are downloaded as a .csv file.


    Researchers must manage which specific study participant is given which specific Participant key outside of the Sea Hero Quest portal.

    Game-play data

    Player data

    Player data contains data defining the player’s position throughout the level. As the player navigates through the different environments, their every move is recorded. The player’s path is presented in a list of positional samples.

    The mobile app game collects samples every 0.5s.

    Meta data

    The following data related to the level play-through is collected:

    • User ID
    • Level ID
    • Duration
    • Previous Attempts
    • Early Termination
    • Platform
    • App Version
    • Flare accuracy (optional)
    • Radial Navigation Method (optional)

    Download individual participant data

    The data collected from playing the Sea Hero Quest game is made available in the portal. The data from an individual participant key can be downloaded by going to Your projects > Click ‘View’ on the project > Click ‘Download’ next to the participant

    The game data is made available in json format.

    Download all data

    The complete dataset collected for a project can be downloaded by going to Your projects > Click ‘View’ on the project > Download all data

    The game data is made available in json format.

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