To address ProsocialLearn’s premise and ambitions, the project must tackle many socio-economic and technical challenges to foster a new market for prosocial games in the educational sector.
An ecosystem for prosocial games
A new ecosystem must be established for student learning and skill acquisition based on prosocial gaming that channels creativity, innovation and technologies from the traditional games industry to the educational sector.
The games industry is thriving with ideas and technical solutions that can directly compliment and benefit serious games, however the financial risk to small game companies must be significantly reduced to create an incentive for new prosocial game productions by offering domain-specific expertise, marketing and distribution channels for these games.
The perception that games are for entertainment only must also be overcome to increase acceptance of their use by teaching professionals in school curricula.
Production and distribution of prosocial games
A dedicated prosocial game development and distribution platform must be provided to distribute prosocial digital games from SME game companies to the educational sector. Developers must be offered scientifically-proven prosocial game creation tools that can be used to develop titles targeting children for prosocial learning purposes.
ProsocialLearn’s innovative application programming interface (API) will allow developers to integrate functions (visual sensing, identification of prosocial signals from in-game actions, personalised adaptation of game elements, player profiles, game mechanics and expressive virtual characters) into digital games, while supporting mechanisms for data collection with protection of personal information.
A prosocial gamification methodology for learning and skills acquisition using serious games must also be provided, based on a rigorous multidisciplinary approach that involves serious games design and implementation grounded in scientific evidence, in order to consistently deliver effective content that serves the required pedagogic goals.
Validation of the ProsocialLearn platform
Student outcomes must be linked to prosocial learning objectives to communicate expectations to students and to provide the basis for evaluating teacher, student and game effectiveness. Prosocial skills must be measured efficiently and cost-effectively using a series of informational cues. Multi-modal signals related to gameplay behaviour (prosocial, aggressive and socially-isolated behaviours), signals hidden in game mechanics (e.g. emotion, trust, engagement and empathy) will be linked to prosociality. Vision-based facial and motion analysis (e.g. emotions and arousal) and other profile data must be fused and evaluated in a context-dependent manner to provide quantitative indicators related to engagement which may be related to the game genre, interaction controls, etc.
Driven by these signals, games will be personalised in order to achieve higher levels of player interest and thus maximise the chances of achieving the learning objectives. Using a pedagogically sound prosocial model that stores student data over time, teachers must be able to efficiently monitor progress and assess mid- to long-term learning outcomes across multiple games and game sessions. Where games target a formal educational context they must be aligned to curricula, helping teaching professionals to understand how to incorporate games into teaching programmes.