Luminescent centers in the two-dimensional material hexagonal boron nitride have the potential to enable quantum applications at room temperature. To be used for applications, it is crucial to generate these centers in a controlled manner and to identify their microscopic nature. Here, we present a method inspired by irradiation engineering with oxygen atoms. We systematically explore the influence of the kinetic energy and the irradiation fluence on the generation of luminescent centers. We find modifications of their density for both parameters, while a fivefold enhancement is observed with increasing fluence. Molecular dynamics simulations clarify the generation mechanism of these centers and their microscopic nature. We infer that VNCB and V-B are the most likely centers formed. Ab initio calculations of their optical properties show excellent agreement with our experiments. Our methodology generates quantum emitters in a controlled manner and provides insights into their microscopic nature.