A team at the University of Huddersfield have been given a multi-million pound grant ... to devise a computer game.
But this is no ordinary game as the £4.5 million is to develop computer games that aim to reduce domestic violence by raising awareness and altering attitudes among young people.
The game – dubbed a ‘prosocial’ game – will be targeted at the UK, China, Uganda, Pakistan and Jamaica in a bid to reduce violence against women and children.
The team at the University of Huddersfield known as the None in Three group which takes its name from figures showing that one in three women and girls experience violence in their lives
Prof Jones said: “What the award will allow us to do, together with funding from the university’s own research fund, is to establish the very first centre dedicated to prosocial games for the prevention of gender-based violence.
“The award is a recognition that prosocial games as an intervention for changing attitudes around violence are a valuable educational tool with long term benefits. There is a growing body of work that shows that games can have a major impact on shaping attitudes and behaviours, as they shape reasoning and problem-solving skills in particular ways.”
None in Three started as a research project focused on the issue of domestic violence in the Caribbean which received funding of 400,000 euros from the EU.
A prosocial computer game was developed and will soon be piloted in schools in Grenada and Barbados. The results will be appraised, to assess its success in changing attitudes.
The Caribbean-focused game centres on a character named Jesse, a child from a home where there is domestic violence.
Prof Jones said: “We have developed a very robust method of evaluation so we will be able to gauge how playing Jesse changes attitudes towards violence and increases empathy. Our research has shown that many young people regularly witness violence in interpersonal relationships and often think this is normal or inevitable. We are challenging these ideas and also tackling negative attitudes towards women and girls while they are being formed.”
Now that the £4.5 million, four-year GCRF award enables None in Three to expand globally, the research group will work with university-based partners in the UK, China, Uganda, Pakistan and Jamaica, and new games will be created based on the language, culture and social issues of each country.
The goal is to produce prosocial games that will be made freely available and will be playable on the widest possible range of computers and devices.