A consortium of nine universities, led by Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University, have announced the development of a new game that hopes to teach children how to counter and control real world bullying situations.
Standing curiously aside Rockstar's own upcoming tormenting title, the universities' game, created with input from both teachers and students, will look at various bullying scenarios and help children learn how various actions can create various subsequent outcomes between the bully and their victims.
Led by Heriot-Watt computer science professor Ruth Aylett, and supported by a research team of experts in computer science, education and psychology fields from the UK, Portugal, Italy and Germany, the group hopes to first test the software in early 2007 in the UK and Germany for children between the ages of 10 and 12.
In the university's release, Aylett said that she expected children to take away more from the interactive experience than what they might from a book, adding:
"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."
He continued: "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."