Parkgömmet is a unique game based on research aiming to increase children’s risk awareness online when it comes to sexual grooming. The game in conjunction with the guiding material for the follow-up dialogue, is intended to be used in schools and directed to children 8-10 years of age.
The game provides first-hand concrete experience of choices and potential outcomes of online contacts in a safe environment and serve as a digital tool to meet the digital challenges. It bridges the cognitive maturity of younger children and the reasoning capabilities required for understanding potential future problems of exposing oneself.
The theme is a park where each player hides a treasure and gets in return a set of clues to the hiding place. During the game an unknown character sends messages similar to online chats and text messages, trying to manipulate the players to give up their clues by taking pictures. The players can choose to reveal a clue bearing in mind it may or may not be a good idea in the long run.
The game mechanics are based on unique research of authentic online dialogues from closed Swedish forums, between children and later convicted perpetrators. The research carried out by the university of Skövde provides real-world insight into perpetrators’ tactics and strategies, some of which have been transferred into game events, but in a non-sexual and non-violent format.
The game consists of a classic board game, a computer game and augmented reality (AR) technology. The AR technology transforms the basic picture on the board into an exciting 3D world.
The game evaluations with young players show that the participating children perceived the game as fun. It also raises questions regarding online behaviors. The game experience will be discussed during the follow-dialogue lead by an adult. The conversation will be facilitated by a guiding material and include subjects such as self-awareness, boundaries and the rights of the child in particular from an online perspective.
The idea of investigating whether a computer game could be used to prevent online sexual grooming came from Change Attitude. The University of Skövde was contacted by Change Attitude in 2013 and thanks to the generous support of the Swedish Foundation Sten A Olssons Stiftelse för Forskning och Kultur, a pre-study was carried out during 2014-2015 by the University in Skövde, which resulted in a playable protoype.
Thanks to the wonderful financial support of the Swedish Postcode Foundation and World Childhood Foundation (sponsor of the University of Skövde) the prototype has now been developed into a deliverable game by the Swedish company IUS Innovation and will distributed in conjunction with the guiding material to all municipal schools for free in Sweden during autumn 2019 and spring 2020.
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