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Professor creates computer game to teach children the importance of social distancing

Shared by Ana Ribeiro on 2020-08-05 18:25

About the solution

While going for a walk during the Covid-19 pandemic, Professor Richard Wiseman felt as though he was living in a computer game "having to avoid joggers and cyclists etc", to keep the recommended social distance.

From his background in Psychology, he knew that evidence that suggested that “pro-social video games can change people's behaviour in the real world". So, he reached out to Martin Jacob, a game designer, and together they created “Can you save the World?” – a computer game designed to help children understand the importance of social distancing as a way to save lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"There's quite a lot of research showing that if you get people - kids in particular - to behave in certain ways in video games it really does transfer to real life", Professor Wiseman explains.

They developed the game in just two weeks and launched in early May 2020. "I think it's the first social distancing game and the first Covid game," Prof Wiseman said.

In the game, players control an avatar that walk through busy streets have to “save lives” by avoiding other pedestrians, cycists and people sneezing. Extra points are gained by obtaining healthy food or by collecting PPE and dropping it of for healthcare workers.

The game is free to play online and was played by more than 15 000 people in the first week after launch. "It has gone viral. It feels like it has chimed with people.It's a way of talking about these things with kids without it being all doom and gloom", stated the creator.

Adapted from: https://news.trust.org/item/20200513134143-d4xps/
https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-52616222

Play the game: https://martin-jacob.itch.io/can-you-save-the-world

https://youtu.be/IfUDo7ekxfA

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Richard Wiseman is professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. He had the idea of creating “Can you save the world”, a computer game to teach children about the importance of social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. He developed the game with the help of Martin Jacob, a computer game designer from France.

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