Game to help prevent bullying

A new Australian-developed computer game has been designed to help children develop conflict resolution and bullying prevention skills.

Researchers at Deakin University worked with Melbourne-based community organisation – Creating a Safe Supportive Environment (CASSE) – under its Peaceful Schools’ program to build the ‘SAFEKEEPER’ game.

Deakin School of IT senior lecturer, Dr Michael Hobbs, said unlike many computer games – which are designed based on some kind of conflict or competition – this game rewards altruistic, upstanding behaviour.

About 20 students from school participating in the Peaceful Schools program helped faculty researchers develop elements of the game, which is based around a space module falling to a new planet.

“Survivors need to work together to stay safe and the high school students actually created many of the characters and scenarios,” Dr Hobbs said.

CASSE approached Deakin earlier this year to help create a concept.

“It has given our researchers an opportunity to develop a game that is not only cutting edge in terms of design, but can offer a real-world solution to a widespread problem of bullying in schools," said Dr Hobbs.

Peaceful Schools program director, Carolyn Aston, said the game seeks to foster enhanced understanding among students and teachers about the benefits of altruistic behaviours.

“SAFEKEEPER incorporates peer issues in challenging scenarios in which characters have a choice of options and are rewarded for altruistic behaviour and teamwork.

“This can help them [learn] how to be ‘upstanders’ when in conflict situations in real life, improving their capacity to be more inclusive and kinder to people,” said Aston.

A prototype of the game will be unveiled at Melbourne Zoo on Friday.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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