The value of experiential learning and role reversals for adults and children in the digital world Yiannis Laouris CyberEthics Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute Cyprus Larnaca 14-16 May, 2012
Why a game?• “Serious Games”• Why people play games? – Hard Fun (emotions such as frustration and ‘Fiero’) – Easy Fun (curiosity, sensation of wonder, and mystery) – Altered States (games as therapy, excitement and relief) – The people Factor (player competition, cooperation, performance and spectacle)• Game Playing Theory and Role Playing• Conceptual Design of the game
Game Design Purpose of the Game: to create a simulated environment of today’s complex, dynamically changing and many-to-many virtual environments where internet risks can be presented and experienced by young players in a controlled way. The approach is scientifically grounded on the thesis that children do not learn about dangers they do not experience. Within this controlled environment, a number of internet related dangers will be simulated and presented to young players in ways that challenge them make decisions and take actions. Their decisions and actions will be related to various scoring systems that define winning strategies, necessary knowledge and skills and ultimately create a winner. The Game is designed to be flexible, multi-player, asynchronous (for a single player), dynamic and expandable. The Game “connects” to real world organizations and their materials in ways that allow Players to find information, learn materials and acquire skills.
Game EnvironmentRegister for a specific Game and be teleported to the respective Game area.These spaces will be denoted with the Names of the specific Game types.Knowledge Center; This is a building with a large space that features lots ofsub spaces (or maybe even an area that resembles a campus). Each subspace will correspond to a different type of resource. For example, we shouldhave study rooms where a group can arrange to meet in order to study anissue. Sub spaces can also include an EC sub space where one can find moreinformation about the Safer internet Plus program, about relevant Europeanfunded projects and about pan-European organizations such as Insafe andInhope. We can also have booths or sub-spaces dedicated to specific Nodes.Areas for other activities and pleasure. These may include: V-Jacuzzi, ParksHall of Fame: This is where one can go and see his/her ranking and listen towinners and their strategies.
Many ways to playA minimum of 5 Players enter into the world at the same time and go fromGame area to Game area competing on the same problems. While competingto maximize their score, they are also encouraged to collaborateSchool competition: Five players from each school play as a Group. TheGame includes mechanisms for players to interact with players from otherschools. The winning Player is the one that not only performs well in theProblems posed and in the collaboration with his peers but also the one issociable and succeeds in making new friends and cultivating those friendshipsChildren with their parents: Young players explore and play together withtheir parents. They are the ones “teaching” their parents about safety andabout gaming.Completely free and continuous Game: This is the ultimate Game because itallows Players to enter at any time.
[Disturbances]Disturbances are situations created by the Game system engine targetingspecific Players each time in order to provoke them take actions. Disturbancesare like invisible “Daemons” or “teachers” from the worlds of Metaphysics whoare experiences as “bad” people but they are actually inherently destined tochallenge one to distinguish what is right and what is wrong (in many cases bymaking a mikstake and paying for it!).
Registering to playPlayers are expected to register when they first enter the Game environment.This registration should be analogous to a SNS. In very analogous way they willre rewarded or punished and also categorized depending on the choices theymake.Privacy settingsIf one reveals too much personal information such as Address, mobile phone etc(we need to decide how we simulate these) will be categorized as candidate forbullying or for stealing his/her identity
Define Study RoomThis is a space or a room which contains some furniture like a conference facilityand is equipped with some technology such as beamer, desk with a computer, aZ-Communicator etc. These tools can be used in specific ways:Beamer: The group can choose only a limited number of presentations (maybeeven just one) that they can attend. Once selected, the PPT presentation will bebeamed on the V-screen accompanied with an Agent talking (pre-recordings)Internet Computer: This is a simulation of a computer from where a Player cansearch within-the-world for information. This where they should locate theresource that they will call on the beamerZ-Communicator: This offers the possibility to call and teleport another personto join this team.
Invitation to meet somebodySomebody can send an invitation to the player to teleport and meet. There mustbe many occasions in which this situation is encountered. There must bereasons for players to move around the environment through teleporting (byinvitation of others) such as:A player owns (has earned) a gadget known as [MobilePhone] and is in a Gamesituation in which s/he wants to use the [RightToCallSomeoneForHelp]. S/hecalls and invites someone to be teleported to his/her locations so that s/he canask the question. The Receiver of the invitation doesn’t know what the otherperson wants when s/he receives the invitation. S/he may also not even knowthe other person very well.
Invitation to meet somebodyA player has to decide whether to accept the invitation to be teleported based onthe following criteria: Don’t go if there is only one single person at the destination. This can bechecked by consulting the MiniMap Take another friend with him/her if s/he thinks that the invitation is for some gettogether, some fun or simply to get to know each other. The personaccompanying the one being invited must also earn points by doing this.However, the same SI rules apply for that person as well.Before one accepts an invitation by a person s/he doesn’t know very well to beteleported somewhere, the person receiving the invitation must open the Profileof the other person and see whether the information there makes sense and isconsistent with what that person communicated already One should check the MiniMap also for more reasons. For example, if oneinvites someone for Help but that person is not a Game area but in discotheque,then this is an inconsistency. Deciding to go anyway entails a risk that must bepunished by a score reduction.
Invitation to the JacuzziA player may decide to spend some time in the Jacuzzi because it is relaxing,because there are friends there but moreover because this is an energizingactivity. At the same time this is a place one shouldn’t be with strangers!
Invitation to a DiscothequeA player may decide to spend some time in the Disco because this is a placewhere you can meet new people and it is also a place where you relax; it is anenergizing activity. But, again this is a place not to be alone with strangers!
Bullying A persona completely unknown to the player (simulated by the system and having different names every time so that there is no memory that such and such person is a known bully) send disturbing messages to a player. There are two possibilities here: One is that this bully has first requested to become friend with the player. Second option is that the bully hacks the system and appears as a friend even though the Player has never accepted or invited him/her. The second situation can happen only if a Player exhibits risky behavior (we can base this on the relevant literature). The Bully manages to “steal” the identity of a person that is already in the list of friends. Similar as above, this can happen whenever a player reveals too much personal information. A programmable agent avatar is a “known” (to those who have encounter him/her) bully who always hangs around in specific locations. We have a few such “bad” guys in the streets, in the park, in the Discothèque, in the Jacuzzi, even in the Knowledge Center.
Reporting to HotlinePlayers are expected to report to the Hotline whenever they encounter any of thefollowing problems or issues:They are being bullied; Someone or a “place” on the island promotespornographic material or makes them feel uncomfortableMaking a report is accompanied with score increase. Reporting that is notcomplete results to no score.
Reporting to HotlineThere should be clear rules of how one makes a Report.. A Talking Agent can“talk” a few issues based on a simple menu. For example, the Agent can answerto the following questions;Who are you?What are you doing hereHow can I make a Report?Will you arrest or punish the criminal?
Reporting to HotlineA Report is considered as complete if it includes the following information:Name of person or object creating the disturbance or the bullyingPlace where the disturbing material or experience was encounteredExact evidence, eg should copy paste the exact text “sent” by a bully to theplayerA Report should be made within a reasonable time frame following the negativeexperience. The chances for the Hotline to identify the “criminal” disappear aretime passes. Therefore, a Report must be made within a time window equal to[OptimalReportingTime] to benefit from the full [ReportingAward]. The awardshould fall exponentially as time passesSomeone encouraging another person to file a Report must be awarded somepoints equal to [EncourageAward]Someone accompanying another person to the Reporting facility should benefitfrom an [ReportAccompanyAward]
Consulting the HelplinePlayers are expected to conduct the Helpline and request support wheneverthey encounter any of the following problems or issues: They are being bullied They encounter any situation that makes them feel uncomfortable The Helpline avatar will talk to them and give them basic information such as: Explain what is the purpose and the role of the Helpline Encourage them to make a Report of the case is such that requires reporting Encourage them to share their feelings with one of the good friends (the correct move is to share this with a FriendCategory5
Validating possibly misleading informationPlayers encounter throughout the game various situations in which they needinformation to proceed. That information might be wrong and will contribute tonegative earnings. They are expected to validate the information by going to theKnowledge Center and searching and consulting the correct and reliablereferences.
Simulating ScoringEach player receives different kinds of scoring such as: SimScore: Players win or lose points depending on their achievements in the specific Game areas. The starting SimScore is zero. EnergyLevel: All Players enter the overall environment with an energy level equal to 1000. They loose energy in the flowing ways: (1) As time passes. (2) As they move too much. (3) As they make wrong choices. This scoring aims to discourage players from staying in the SimSafety™ Game for too long, and acts as an anti- addiction measure. PowerImpact: The more friends one has the more powerful. The more places one visits the better. The more games one plays, the more points s/he earns (irrespective of game outcome). SafenetLevel: The value depends on his/her privacy settings. If a Player’s SafenetLevel is low, s/he is a “good” candidate for Bullying, for encountering situations in which his/her identity was stolen etc. The low value functions as a trigger on the Disturbances Engine or the Bullying Engine to “prepare” a “situation” for the particular Player.
Testing in Schools60th primary school of Patras Students: sixth grade including 12 boys and 8 girls (12 years old) - familiar with social networking environments and online games Head Teacher:The class teacher with relevant experience in teaching, using ICT Room: lab with five computers, ADSL connection
Testing in SchoolsElementary and Secondaryschools in Cyprus Students: 8-14 years old) - familiar with social networking environments and online games Head Teacher:The class teacher with relevant experience in teaching, using ICT Room: lab with computers, ADSL connection
Implementation Drawbacks Difficulties setting up the computer labs Limited Number of computers available in primary school labs Low connectivity
Implementation Highlights Great enthusiasm on behalf of pupils (many more would like to have been involved in the project. Great support from teachers Persistence and patience on behalf of pupils who also access SimSafety from home regularly
Some Fieldnotes 6th grade primary school pupils tend to be more focused and perform better in SimSafety than 5th grade primary school pupils SimSafety is not an environment that pupils can take full advantage of without the support of an inspired teacher Often visits to SimSafety minimises the technical problems and highlights the positive aspects Mini games are successful when one of the roles is being played by an adult making provocative questions and initiating interesting discussions Interesting discussions among teacher and pupils occurred during mini game playing and while answering the quizzes Some of the pupils have become great funs of SimSafety and import “gestures” to the system, help us debug it etc.
Pupils liked….They liked: the graphics (they thought there were many nice places to visit) their avatars that there were many nice things to do that they could discuss with each other that they could discuss with pupils from other countries flying the “Report Centre”
Pupils’ CommentsThey didn’t like: “sinking” into the water or in the ground due to bad internet connection the fact that “Kostas whispers” (bullying machine) was calling them names They suggest that we implement : Planes, cars and motorbikes More action Superpowers Some punching and striking More games Multiple cities Speed (make the system quicker)
Teachers’ comments They liked role playing games (they found them educationally useful) They thought it was an asset of SimSafety to have many pupils online at the same time discussing and acting together They thought there is great potential in SimSafety
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