Researchers at the University of Huddersfield have secured funding of almost £5m to develop a computer game.
But it’s no ordinary game as it tackles the issue of violence against women and children.
The None in Three (Ni3) project partners with campaigners in China, Jamaica, Pakistan and Uganda as well as the UK. It is envisaged as an educational way to reduce levels of violence against women and children and may well be the first of its kind in the world.
It is being led by Professor Adele Jones, whose team will develop a “pro-social” computer game tailored to the priorities of the participating countries.
Ni3 has been awarded £4.3 million from the UK government’s Global Challenges Research Fund. The remainder of the £4.6m cost - £287,720 - has come from the university’s own research fund.
Specialists from a range of disciplines from the social sciences to computer technology will collaborate on the research and development of the game.
“Our focus for the UK will be violence in adolescent relationships,” said Professor Jones, “But each country will determine its own focus.”
The centre’s core team is now in place but there are new posts for postgraduate researchers and games developers. Collaborators around the world will recruit their own teams.
The Ni3 project, as it is named, is derived from a finding that one in three women and girls experience violence in their lives. Its official inauguration was followed by two weeks of workshops to discuss the research that needs to be done.
“In each country we will be doing both qualitative and quantitative research,” added Professor Jones. “The purpose will be to try to understand some of the social and cultural drivers of gender-based violence in the five countries because that is going to inform the development of a computer game for each country.”
There will be a review of studies into gender-based violence in each country, which will enable the development of a survey designed to assess the attitudes of children and young people to violence. It will also be used to measure the effectiveness of children’s exposure to computer game intervention.
It is anticipated that a trial version of the Ni3 pro-social game will be available within 18 months. The project has been funded for its first four years, but the intention is that it will be a permanent research centre and new overseas collaborations could be formed.