A NEWLY-assembled team of designers and animation experts based at the University of Huddersfield is developing a computer game that will help reduce levels of domestic abuse and sexual violence in the UK and around the world. The progress they are making in the £4.5 million project is to be showcased at an exhibition in London that will receive tens of thousands of visitors.
The University is home to the research centre named None in Three (Ni3), which has received funding from the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, via the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The AHRC is mounting a Design Research for Change showcase, part of the London Design Fair, taking place in London on 20 to 23 September. Out of more than 300 projects that had received funding from the research council, just 67 were chosen for the prestigious event and Ni3 is one of just 20 to be highlighted with its own exhibit.
It is expected that the Design Fair will receive 10,000 visitors a day, and when they visit the Ni3 display they will witness material that shows the new game taking shape, including its storyline and character development. There will be a video of game play in development, as well as clips of centre co-director Professor Adele Jones talking about the project.
The stated goal of the multi-disciplinary None in Three centre is to create and evaluate ‘prosocial’ computer games that will help prevent gender-based violence. There will be different versions tailored to key issues of abuse in the UK, plus India, Uganda and Jamaica, to sit alongside the existing game, Jesse, already produced through a previous EU-funded project, for Barbados and Grenada.
Domestic abuse and gender violence
The Centre draws its name from the global statistic that one in three women and girls are currently subject to sexual or physical violence in their lifetime.
Experts in fields that include social work and psychology are providing research-based data and Ni3 has now appointed a Games Team to carry out technical and creative development.
Helen Smailes is games development manager and Hayley Royston is game designer. Her fellow University of Huddersfield graduate Adam Cowell is games programmer, while Ramy Hammady and Natasha Robinson are game animators.
“They are making good progress and most of the visual images submitted to the design showcase have been produced by them,” said Roslyn Cumming, who is Ni3’s Operations Manager.
The aim is that the customised games for all of the countries engaged in the project will be ready by October 2020, she added. They would be trialled in schools and other educational settings.
“There will be five levels to each country’s game. They are played on consecutive days, so young people will play the game and then have some facilitated discussion about the issues raised,” explained Roslyn.
The UK game – which is the most advanced in its development – focusses on intimate partner violence in teenage relationships and tackles emotional as well as physical abuse. It is an issue that affects as many as one in three girls and, to a lesser but still significant extent, boys too.