SIREN – Improving Conflict Resolution Skills

It is a fact that GALA is effectively addressing the existing fragmentation on Serious Games. However, given the large amount of stakeholders, the diversity of dissemination channels and amount of information generated it is still possible that some Serious Game (SG) developments “go under the radar”. In an effort to counter this we introduce SIREN, a fellow EU project including two GALA partners – INESC-ID and Serious Games Interactive. Other participants in the consortium are the National Technical University of Athens (coordinator), IT University of Copenhagen, University of Bath, University of California, University of Birmingham and University of Malta.

The SIREN project aims to create a new type of educational game, the conflict resolution game, which takes advantage of recent advances in serious games, social networks, computational intelligence and emotional modeling to create uniquely motivating and educating games that can help to shape how children think about conflict and how they handle it. The software developed by the project will be able to automatically generate conflict scenarios that fit the teaching needs of particular groups of children with varying cultural background, maturity, and technical expertise, and the desired learning outcomes as specified by a teacher. This will enable the system to be used by schoolteachers all over Europe, without specific technical training.

To achieve this goal the consortium is developing two games: My Dream Theater and Village Voices.

My Dream Theatre (“putting conflict on center stage”) is an educational game that intends to prepare children to manage conflict more effectively and independently. In this serious game, the player will manage a theatre company and must choose an adequate cast for each theatre play during a whole season. The player has the opportunity to choose her own cast and assign the roles for each character that wants to participate in the play. Each cast member has its own preferences, level of proficiency, interests and personality. The latter characteristic defines how the character acts when facing conflict situations. The user has to play with those variables towards a successful performance and at the same time manage conflicts that may arise between the characters.

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Village Voices is a multiplayer open world game that takes place in an imaginary village. On the surface, the game is about survival and prosperity in the village. On closer inspection, however, the game is about friendship and reputation management in the village, and mastery of conflict resolution. As part of daily life in the village, players will be required to undertake various actions related to maintenance of their characters’ livelihoods. As all characters are interdependent, situations often arise that lead to conflicts, with the players responsible for determining how to manage them. The heart of the gameplay revolves around management of interpersonal relationships from a first person perspective. Village Voices relies on personalization technology, relying on individual player models to assist in the selection and adjustment of quests suited towards the conflict learning needs of each player.

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The topic addressed by these games situates them under the applicational area “Personal & Social Learning & Ethics”(PSLE) (GALA Special Interest Group – link). We can then summarily characterize them: 

Developer: EU SIREN Project

Genre: role play / management simulation

Educational purpose: prepare children to manage conflict more effectively and independently.

Target audience: 10 to 12 years old children

PSLE taxonomy class: Interpersonal Skills (Conflict Management)

Web page: http://sirenproject.eu/project-summary

Release date: 2013

Platform: Windows / Macintosh

After an intense development phase the game is now entering the evaluation phase to assess its effectiveness as a tool for teaching conflict resolution skills. I highlight the importance of this new stage since it directly addresses one of the main criticisms many SGs still face.

If you have any question or are interested in trying out the game please get in touch with our colleagues involved in the project.

Project Coordinator: Kostas Karpouzis – kkarpou (at) image.ntua.gr

My Dream Theater Contact: Carlos Martinho – carlos.martinho (at) ist.utl.pt

Village Voices: Rilla Khaled – rilla.khaled (at) um.edu.mt

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