Abertay students win distinguished American award for video game about sexual permission


A group of Abertay University students have won a prestigious American award for a video game designed to raise young people’s awareness of the issue of authorization in sexual relationships.

The group of seven students, who called themselves Sonder Games, won the People’s Choice Award for their game After Party at this year’s Games4Health competitors at the University of Utah.

Sonder Games was among just nine award winners out of 121 teams gone into in the competition. As a $1,000 reward, they likewise got mentoring from celebrity online game designers Chris Avellone and James Portnow.

After Party was developed in partnership with the Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Dundee and Angus (WRASAC) and the Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Perth and Kinross (RASAC).

The 2 centers had actually approached Abertay late in 2014 to check out the possibility of establishing a game for potential use in schools to address difficulties dealing with youths around the hyper-sexualization of women and girls in the media, the hyper-masculinisation of men and boys and, most importantly, the problem of permission.

Abertay sociologists Jan Law and Stefan de Paoli worked with video games development lecturer Dr Iain Donald to assemble the team of students to work with sexual violence prevention employees Lorraine Bairstow from WRASAC and Catriona Scott from RASAC and volunteer Amy Holmes.

The students participated in workshops coordinated by the 2 centers as part of the Sexual Violence Prevention program run by Rape Crisis Scotland.

They also facilitated focus groups with youths from Harris Academy and Menzieshill High School in Dundee as well as with RASAC Youth Ambassadors in Perth a peer education and marketing group.

The partners in the project are now working closely together to think about how the game can be established.

Sonder Games is led by Shannon McManus (studying Game Design and Production Management) and Matthew Stockdale (Computer Games Technology). The other members are Georgia Gray (Computer Arts), Shane Ellis (Creative Sound Production), Katrina Lingham (Computer Arts), and Craig Alexander and William Wallace (both studying Game Design and Production Management).

I have actually been part of a team, not just comprised of gifted students, but now of excellent pals. We have actually been extremely lucky to have the remarkable support of both our customers and staff at Abertay.

Lorraine Bairstow of WRASAC stated: One of the national results for the sexual violence prevention task has to do with engaging with youths to establish interventions. This has actually been a wonderful experience for us and we have actually been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to engage with the students and staff from Abertay. The input from the groups of youths from Harris Academy, Menzieshill High School and the RASAC Youth Initiative was absolutely important and informed greatly the direction of the game material.

Jan Law of Abertay University stated: "As a Sociologist dealing with this project in an interdisciplinary approach has actually been a satisfying experience working both with these students and the personnel of WRASAC and RASAC. As a team we have currently talked about how these sorts of games can work as educational tools and how they might be established for future work in other areas of young people’s health such as sexual health and emotional wellness. I look forward to seeing the online game being developed and assessing how it operates in schools.

Catriona Scott of RASAC stated: We have actually found it a motivating experience working with the passionate and dedicated students from Abertay University who with assistance from their speakers have actually developed an ingenious way for young people to explore the concern of consent. As an organization we are committed to supporting youths to learn from the understanding and experience of others. We believe that the game developed by young people for youths will be an amazing resource.

Dr Iain Donald of Abertay University commented: Our students have actually done outstanding work and it is great to see them recognized by a worldwide contest such as Games4Health. They have actually shown that difficult subjects can be checked out by games and I look forward to seeing where they take this next.