Kat Schrier, Director of Games/Associate Professor, Marist CollegeGAMES IN K-6, 7-12
How can we use VR experiences to encourage perspective-taking, empathy, and compassion? Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with more than 250 ethnic groups and 500 languages. These diverse groups still struggle to see themselves as a united nation. In this talk, we describe how we are creating a VR game where players, ages 13-18, which aims to reduce biases and enhance compassion for others. Players embody or observe someone from another ethnic group who is facing discrimination. The game aims to connect people from disparate ethnic groups by enabling them to understand what other groups face in Nigeria. We will discuss the challenges of creating a VR game that is engaging and unique for the audience, effective for enhancing empathy, and culturally relevant to Nigerian teenagers.
“Empathy” is a challenging, complex, and even problematic concept. In this talk, we unpack how we design for "empathy," and how we assess empathy through a VR game. We are different teams working together to make a VR experience for adolescents in Nigeria. This includes: a research, development, and design team at Lagos Business School in Lagos Nigeria, led by Dr. Eugene Ohu; and the Play Innovation Lab, led by Dr. Kat Schrier in New York. We are funded by the Templeton Grant and creating a dynamic, unique, and effective VR game experience that Nigerian teens will connect with, which can be played in a school setting.
In this talk, we want to talk candidly about the challenges in designing, making, and researching a VR game for empathy. Some of the issues we will bring up are:
1. Difficulties of balancing fun and engagement with learning outcomes in VR
2. Challenges of defining and assessing empathy and compassion, and how to operationalize it through a VR game.
3. Our design decisions and process for making a culturally relevant, engaging story and game for Nigerian teens.
6. Challenges of working on a VR game across continents.
7. The technical challenges of developing a VR game in Africa.
We are happy to do a panel or talk, but there are 6 of us that will be chatting and we are worried about cost for the team in Africa.