Get lost less often with virtual maps

A screenshot of the virtual map


College can be a confusing place. There are books to buy, schedules to keep and financial aid to worry about.

Just getting around campus can be difficult.

Genji Tapia, president of the Game Developers Guild at West Campus, said a group of students is trying to make navigating Pima Community College’s West Campus easier with video game technology.

“They had the idea of creating a virtual version of the campus,” Tapia said. “They thought it would be great to use as an app so we can navigate to classes.”

The group has started digitally recreating areas of West Campus and hopes to do the same at other PCC campuses in Tucson.

Guild Vice President Vincent Buffton, 30, originally came up with the idea, although it didn’t start out as a navigation tool.

“I was thinking it would be awesome if we could do some kind of game with the campus,” Buffton said.

One idea was a zombie hunting game that would take place in the hallways and corridors of the campus.

Buffton met up with the guild in 2015 and told them his idea. As it turns out, the guild was looking for just such an idea as a starting point for developing their own video game.

The idea eventually morphed into a way for Pima students to find their way around.

“We came up with the idea where a student could type in a classroom number, a teacher’s office, bookstore or cafeteria, and it will guide a character through the campus to show them how to reach that destination,” Buffton said.

They brought their idea to school officials, who said they would need something more substantial before considering the proposal.

The guild also has proposed a plan in which the school would create an internship to help develop the program.

So far they have mapped, modeled and textured the cafeteria and hope to continue work on the rest of the campus. They said, however, that they have run into problems, namely because of a lack of talented 3D modelers.

They have their work cut out for them, considering the design of West Campus.

According to members of the guild, that design is particularly difficult to navigate, and it is not an accident.

“It was built to be confusing so that no one could congregate very easily,” said guild member Benjamin Armour, 23.

West Campus was built in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War, and Armour explained that the designers wanted to limit protesters’ ability to assemble.

“If you go one direction and someone goes the other direction, it’s actually hard to meet back up,” Armour said.

This creates headaches for students, especially new ones, trying to find their way around.

The guild members said they would like very much to finish their virtual tour and are asking for any students trained in 3D computer modeling to contact them.

For those interested in helping with the project, contact guild President Genji Tapia at

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