An international team is building a new game to help kids cope with bullying at school.
Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is coordinating a new effort to create an anti-bully game for use in schools all over Europe. Nine different universities and researchers in computer sciences, education and psychology will be involved in development. While Rockstar's Bully is not named as inspiration, this new development is sure to draw comparisons.
"If you're a young person facing some sort of bullying on a regular basis the problem can seem too big, too overwhelming, to tackle. What we will be developing is a virtual world where the user can interface directly with a synthetic character who is also a bullying victim. That bullying scenario is played out on the screen then the user can interface with the synthetic character, discuss what has happened and make choices about how the character might like to react in future. They can then watch the next scenario and see what sort of impact that advice has in how things turn out. That way, instead of what feels like a huge problem in their own lives the decisions are broken down into bite-sized chunks affecting a virtual character."
The new software will be tested in schools in the UK and Germany in early 2007, evaluating both teach and student reactions to the game.