Wednesday 17 October, 2018

Video game equips Barbadian children to confront domestic violence

Barbadian schoolchildren are among the first in the region to test a new computer game aimed at increasing their awareness of domestic violence.

The pilot project, which concluded in October and took place simultaneously in Grenada, is also expected to provide students with knowledge on how to report acts of domestic violence.

The None in Three (Ni3) project is being implemented by a team of Caribbean and UK experts, led by Professor Adele Jones from the University of Huddersfield, UK. Developed in partnership with the Sweet Water Foundation, Grenada, Ni3 runs for two years, ending in February 2018.

“They learn about domestic violence… and can develop certain attitudes and responses to domestic violence. We are looking at conflict resolution, development of empathy and development of emotional intelligence in the game,” Dr. Ena Trotman- Jemmott, the project leader in Barbados told Loop News.

Two secondary and primary schools in Barbados had the opportunity to experience the game.

Dr Trotman-Jemmott called it a “tremendous success” and reported that children understood the issue the game was trying to portray as well as the fact that both victim and abuser needed help.

The game, called Jesse, is about a 10-year-old boy experiencing domestic violence at home. Children playing the game will encounter different levels where they will have to make choices and interact with characters; all the while learning along the way.

Nine hundred children in Barbados were interviewed in August 2016 in preparation for the game's development. The report showed that children are severely impacted by domestic violence.

Currently, it is suitable for desktops and laptops but hopes are to expand usage to smartphones.

Professor Jones, in an online report, said the game was designed from original research in the Caribbean. It portrays Caribbean voices, environment, characters, dialogue and storyline.

In terms of the trial run, she explained that though scientific analysis was not yet completed, “anecdotally it is very clear that young people have found this method of engaging with them to be a very positive experience without exception”.

“They understand what it is we are trying to get across; they appreciate that we have used a strategy that they can work with at their pace without the interruption of an adult. It's between them and Jesse and what they learn about domestic violence,” Jones stated.

The analysis data is expected to be completed following revision of the game in order to “make it widely available as an educational intervention across the region”.

The success of the project here in the Caribbean garnered such recognition that the UK Government has funded the programme. Over $4 million has been awarded to aid in the expansion of the project to China, Pakistan, Jamaica and Uganda. The money will help in the development of computers games which, according to the university's website, “aim to reduce domestic violence by raising awareness and altering attitudes among young people”.

The Ni3 project also conducted research between April and July 2016 in Barbados and Grenada where they focused on “specific groups who may be exposed to additional challenges alongside the experience of domestic violence”.

Those groups include women who experienced domestic violence during pregnancy, women with disabilities, women living with HIV and women in same-sex relationships. Recommendations are then given on how to deal the challenges faced.