To Teach Bystander Intervention, Try a Video Game

UNH Today: Campus Life Articles

As recent news headlines have shown, bystanders can play a pivotal role in preventing sexual assault and relationship violence. But experts will tell you that the most challenging part is spreading awareness about bystander intervention, especially among teens and college students. A new study from UNH researchers has found that video games show promise as a tool to share information and influence bystander attitudes and effectiveness in situations of sexual violence.“While talking one-on-one is the gold standard when it comes to the importance of being the bystander and doing something to help, we wanted to find a more familiar way to reach a generation that is used to getting their information in a fast-paced online format,” says Sharyn Potter, professor of sociology and executive director of UNH’s Prevention Innovations Research Center. “We thought that creating gaming scenarios that immersed players in trivia games or role-playing environments might help us tap into some of the harder-to-reach populations.”
“We thought that creating gaming scenarios that immersed players in trivia games or role-playing environments might help us tap into some of the harder-to-reach populations.”
In their study, recently published in the Games For Health Journal, researchers at UNH’s Prevention Innovations Research Center and the Tiltfactor Laboratory at Dartmouth College collaborated with nine students of varying ethnicity, gender and fields of study to create two video games that teach bystander intervention skills to college students in situations of sexual and relationship violence and stalking. The research team pooled ideas to create a trivia game called Mindflock and an interactive scenario game called Ship Happens that were pilot-tested by first-year college students. Each game includes subject matter related to sexual assault and bystander intervention, as well as general campus information, pop culture and entertainment, so the main themes of the game would not be too obvious and potentially cause participants to lose …

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