Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

GDC 10: Teaching child violence prevention through gaming

10:00 AM on 03.10.2010 // Ashley Davis

Allan McCullough is a man with a very noble quest. He wants to help educate children so that they know how to deal with violence. How does he plan to do it? Videogames.

As someone who loves to see developers use the power of games to do good, his GDC session, titled "Violence Prevention - Playing a Video Game Can Make a Difference", stuck out at me right away. I had to go and see what this man had up his sleeve. If you're interested in that sort of thing too, hit the jump for a summary of the talk.

Mr. McCullough opened his talk with the story of Sharon, a young girl who was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1985. It was a grim tale that made the room go completely silent, but he told it with good reason: it was this particular case of child abuse that jumpstarted his quest. He started out by conducting a lot of research, and he concluded that the old teachings of "stranger danger" were actually more harmful than helpful. It taught children to only be wary of people they don't know or who look threatening, when they are in the most danger of being abused by someone they know and love. He knew he would have to develop a whole new way to teach violence prevention to children, but didn't know quite how... until his brother received a Commodore 64 as a gift.

McCullough was amazed at the power that simulation had, especially over younger children. Games are very engaging and can teach, even when they don't intend to. Through them, his little brother experienced consequences and learned as much from them than if he had experienced them in real life. McCullough decided that this was the way he wanted to teach children.

After a few years of development, he presented the game to police and FBI agents, who loved the idea. But the year was 1989. A lot of homes and schools didn't have computers, so he ultimately had to hold his project back and wait for computers to catch on. Over the next two decades, he deepened his studies to make the game an even better educator. He worked with children, parents, and those who had lost their children to predators.

At this point in the talk, McCullough played a little introduction to the game, entitled Sydney Safe-Seeker and the Incredible Journey Home. Like any game aimed at children, it was bright and colorful, but what was surprising was its gameplay. It wasn't outright about its intentions, but slipped its teachings into a grand adventure that, on its surface, had very little to do with violence prevention. In it, Sydney and his friends accidentally fall into a portal and have to find four stones to make another portal home. But along the way, they get into some potentially dangerous situations.

For example, there are points in the game where an NPC might steal an item out of Sydney's backpack. He needs all of his items to win the game, so you have to get it back. In order to do so, you have to make him pull out his cell phone, call the police, and complete a mini-game where you describe the culprit. This teaches children to report any trouble they run into and to pay extra close attention to whoever caused it.

Sydney Safe-Seeker also helps parents by tracking the child's prevention skills. If there are any areas where they are having trouble, a parent can access additional material from the Child Safety Research & Innovation Center so that they can help with the teaching process. This interaction is a huge part of the process, because the child needs to feel comfortable discussing these subjects with the people they trust most.

Sydney isn't the only game of this kind. McCullough is also developing a game to educate children on how to deal with cyberbullying. Games are often scapegoats, wrongly demonized by parents for causing violence among children. But Allan McCullough can see the potential games have to be the solution, not the problem.



Ashley Davis,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Off to the new job shortly. Dunno if it's something I want long term, but I can't complain about the money. New laptop, phone, and consoles could be weeks away :D
JohnSmith123 avatarJohnSmith123
http://destructivecreations.pl/isdefense/ /Hatred devs really like the controversy I guess.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Is it too late to write about the waifu wars? I don't really have one but there is a female character I have in mind that I want to talk about.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Bayo has high execution barrier and largely unsafe moveset but Witch Time is a huge saving grace. I bet people are double bitter with Corrin being in the game and being pretty reliable in terms of skillset. Definitely a safer and stronger choice than Bayo
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Streaming some Unravel then perhaps some Firewatch. Don't not come. [url]http://twitch.tv/Jed05[/url]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Just got my Wind up Ifrit minion. I couldn't sell it, it was too adorable.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Just got my Wind up Ifrit minion. I couldn't sell it, it was too adorable.
Parismio avatarParismio
I was playing Third Strike on PS3 with my PS4 controller and I tried using the dpad for the first and noticed that it doesnt take corner directional inputs. Is this normal for ps4 controllers on ps3?
Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
I swear, it makes sense in context..... Kinda. Hmmm. Okay, not so much. [img]http://i.imgur.com/YhIzmYN.png[/img]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Almost done with my Waifu wars blog. pretty happy with how it turned out.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Time to scream and shout. It's Nanako cosplaying as her big bro! <3
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump is like Gandalf the White vs. Handsome Jack.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Skellige is so cool! It's like the land of Valhalla Rising.
Torchman avatarTorchman
http://gonintendo.com/stories/251840-fire-emblem-fates-petting-mini-game-is-in-game-but-only-availa I THOUGHT THIS WAS GONE. MAKE UP YOUR DAMN MINDS PEOPLE
Shinta avatarShinta
God damn, Bernie Sanders is just killing it with this speech. Hitting basically every point. He even used the word "oligarchy." Probably the first time I've ever heard that word uttered on CNN. I think a lot of people in power are shitting their pants
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
In my haste to finally factory reset my tablet, I erased a blog I had worked on. Thankfully, it's fresh in my mind. It's another MGS blog, but it goes the opposite way of my last MGS blog. Pray this guy is not your husbando, for he is shit.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Just ate a disgusting amount of sugary wonders in a Fat Tuesday blowout. Chocolate (birthday) cake, Oreos, brownies, cookie dough, and some creme brule thing. Satiation by way of eat-'til-you-puke is what Shenanigans says!
LaTerry avatarLaTerry
Is there any real difference between the PS3 and the PS4 versions of Valkyria Chronicles?
Shinta avatarShinta
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Say whaaaaaat?
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -