Mirror Image Created To Protect Kids From Internet Predators

A new report by the Globe & Mail has highlighted a new...
A new report by the Globe & Mail has highlighted a new serious game entitled Mirror Image, which was designed to be played by young children in an effort to educate them about the dangers of internet sexual predators. Developed by Vancouver-based LiveWires Design in collaboration with the Ontario Provincial Police and Ontario Ministry of Education, the game parallels a real life sexual harassment case, and has been integrated within the curriculum for all seventh grade students in Ontario public and Catholic schools. The game will also be distributed nationwide within Canada in the fall thanks to funding by the Mounted Police Foundation. In addition, Mirror Image will also be distributed to schools in the U.S. and the United Kingdom later in 2006. Describing the game, the report notes that Mirror Image “is based on a real case of a sexual predator, involving at least 10 teenage girls in Saint John, New Brunswick. (Police are not sure of the total number of girls the man targeted.) In 2000, Robert Laking, a janitor at a community college, contacted the girls -- all aged between 14 and 17 -- pretending to be a modelling agent. Laking offered the teens an audition with a New York modelling agency.” The report added: “If a girl accepted, he asked for photographs, and several teenagers sent pictures of themselves in their bathing suits or underwear.” The game teaches players about internet predators through a series of puzzles. Children play the role of a detective in Mirror Image, as they attempt to follow clues and track down the predator, who the report notes is named after the real person is the aforementioned case. Besides the obvious benefit of educating children to better protect them against the dangers of internet predators, the interest in Mirror Image also shows a growing acceptance of video games as a tool for education, an observation echoed by journalist Clive Thompson in the online report. "Educators are just now tuning in to the enormous potential of these games," commented Thompson, "and because of this we are seeing an explosion in the number of serious games hitting the market." For more information on Mirror Image, as well as reactions from those who have played it, read the full report.

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