Innovation That Matters

The game aims to make it easier for players to understand and empathise better with victims of discrimination | Photo source Alex Shipps | MIT CSAIL

A role-playing game helps to develop understanding of discrimination 

Computing & Tech

The VR element helps players experience multiple viewpoints

Spotted: The global video game industry is expected to be worth almost $270 billion by 2025 (almost €250 billion). And crucially, Asia-Pacific vice president for the global gaming business at Meta, Sandhya Devanathan, has called diversity in gaming “not just a social imperative, it’s also an economic imperative.” 

MIT scientists are currently using big data to build a platform for halting race-based inequitable policies and services. Called the Initiative on Combatting Systemic Racism, the cross-disciplinary programme brings together research from all areas of life – including healthcare, housing, sustainability, and social media. Gaming is also included, with D. Fox Harrell, MIT professor of digital media and AI at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), leading a new program of study: Antiracism, Games, and Immersive Media.  

Working with Caglar Yildirim, a research scientist in CSAIL, Harrell designed a virtual reality role-playing game (VR RPG) called On the Plane. The RPG is built on the Unity game engine and is playable via desktop computer and wireless Meta Quest headsets. It provides players with three roles: a first-generation Malaysian American woman wearing hijab, a flight attendant, and another passenger who is a white woman with minimal travel experience.  

AI enables an interactive narrative engine that changes the game as players adapt their behaviours, helping participants better understand the many ways in which xenophobia can be expressed and how it may feel to be a recipient of such behaviour.  

Gaming is a powerful educational tool, and Springwise has spotted innovators developing other platforms that help assess mental health, and identify children struggling to learn to read.

Written By: Keely Khoury




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