Sea Hero Quest

Sea Hero Quest is a free digital game that can be downloaded for a tablet and has been specifically designed by researchers to explore the navigation and orientation abilities of people as they age. The game is played individually, and players must navigate their avatar throughout a virtual world whilst also engaging in a range of tasks, including: steering a ship around icebergs; shooting flares; and chasing and photographing sea creatures. The game is colourful, engaging and fun, and a great way to encourage people to use their navigation and orientation skills. 

Basic information


Sea Hero Quest is a mobile navigational game. It involves playing as a son who embarks on a sea journey quest to recover memories that his father has lost through dementia. The game requires a player to undertake a range of tasks that examine navigation and orientation skills. These include: steering a ship through icebergs; shooting flares; and chasing sea creatures.

The game was designed and developed by Glitchers in collaboration with Alzheimer’s Research UK, University College London and the University of East England, and with funding from Deutsche Telekom. The game is contributing to dementia research throughout the world by helping researchers to understand the mental process of 3D navigation; one of the first abilities to be lost through the on-set of dementia. It is free for everyone to play, and throughout the game players are asked to contribute to research by entering certain information about themselves. By February 2017 the game had been downloaded 2.7 million times.

Sea hero quest See hero quest screenshots


At its most basic level the objective of the game is to steer the ship from the start point to the finish point. This involves remembering a route and navigating the ship through obstacles such as icebergs. As players progress through the game then the difficulty level increases and they are required to undertake additional tasks such as firing a flare back in the direction they travelled or chasing a sea monster. These tasks will require players to engage with their navigation and orientation abilities.


The game length will vary depending on how far the player progresses through the game. A typical game will last somewhere around 15-20 minutes.


  • The game is free to download from the App Store (for iOS) or Google Play (for Android)




Participants’ profile:

  • Dementia level: the game can be played by any person regardless of whether they have dementia or not. Those who have advanced dementia are likely to find it quite difficult although their experiences of engaging with the game can be important for research purposes.
  • Physical requirements:
    • Likely to require finger dexterity to tap the appropriate buttons when navigating the ship.
    • Likely to require an element of hand-eye co-ordination when navigating the ship.
    • Players may struggle to hold and see the tablet or phone whilst engaging with the game. Linking the tablet to a large TV screen is likely to overcome some of these issues and will enable other people to watch as the game is being played.

Number of participants:

  • The game is for one person to play at a time.


Material and requirements

Materials required to play the game:

  • Tablet/mobile phone.
  • Sea Hero Quest app.


Environment considerations:

  • Good lighting levels. Avoid glare.
  • The tablet can be connected to a large TV screen for people who have difficulties with their sight.
  • Tables should be available for people to sit at whilst they are playing.

Support needed

Professionals / relatives can:

  • Explain the game instructions and their variants.
  • Set-up the game by moving through the introduction pages.
  • Help players understand the required actions such as the buttons that need to be pressed.
  • Hold the tablet or phone whilst the player engages with the game.


Starting point:

  • The game automatically begins at the most basic level and teaches the player the general mechanics of the gameplay.


 Players begin the game by selecting the path they wish to take (this will be number 1, then 2 etc). The earlier levels of the game encourage the player to memorize the map and find the checkpoint (this will be indicated by a red flag). Following this, players are given control of the ship and required to navigate it to the checkpoint through the various obstacles. To steer the ship, players tap either on the left or right of the tablet depending on the direction they wish to take. The first levels are relatively straight forward but as players progress through the game the tasks become more difficult.

In the later levels players are tasked with shooting a flare back in the direction that they travelled. At certain points, players will be given the choice of three directions (indicated by A, B or C on the screen) as asked to selected the one that corresponds with the direction that they have just travelled. This examines players’ orientation ability.

Another task also includes chasing a sea creature and capturing its photograph at the optimal point. This requires players to navigate their ship so as to avoid the icebergs and then push the middle button on the tablet at the appropriate time to use the camera.

For an overview of the game see:

For a demonstration of the game see:


Additional information

Variants of the game:

  • The difficulty level of the game will automatically be increased as the player progresses through it.


Alternative games:

Similar AD-GAMING games:


  • Scores will automatically be collected by the game.
  • Players can enter further personal details for research purposes.
  • Record the amount of time required by players to correctly interact with the game.
  • Record players’ scores.

Notes / observations

  • The game will only run from a tablet or mobile phone.
  • It is possible to buy an adaptor to enable to tablet to be linked to a larger TV screen to support people with sight difficulties.

Practical activity


Sea Hero Quest


30 minute game for 1 player

Prepare the game:

Ensure the iPad is positioned next to the player.

Load up the Sea Hero Quest game and watch the opening sequence. This will explain that the boy is looking to find his father’s memories that have been lost at sea.


Use the early levels to encourage the players to learn how to use the game and navigate the ship.

The levels will automatically increase in difficulty as the player progresses through them.


Facilitators can observe whether the player is successfully navigating the ship. If not then it may be appropriate for you to support them.

Facilitators can observe if the player can successfully orientate themselves and direct the flare back to its original starting position. If not then they may need to provide support.


Facilitators can assess whether the player improves whilst navigating the ship as well as whether they improve on orientating themselves as they interact with the game.

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