Aleksandra Solinska-Nowak, the Project Coordinator for creating the New Shores game, told us more about its two-year development process:
What competences does the game develop?
The New Shores game is a multiplayer, online game that can be played on tablets or laptops and offers a social experience. It improves young people’s awareness of their environment, develops their communications and mathematical skills, and builds trust between students. It also demonstrates how their actions have an effect on their surroundings. For instance, on their virtual island, players can learn to predict the environmental outcomes of certain actions, such as cutting down trees or burning coal as fuel. Students take part in groups, but each group member gets to take individual decisions and can see the consequences.
How can they make use of what they have learned?
Each gaming session is followed by a moderated discussion, where players can air their thoughts and feelings. We ask them to reflect on what would happen in the real world if they continued exploiting the resources as they did in the game. We compare the original, beautiful, green environment to the island that was left polluted by the decisions they took. Although this takes place in a virtual world, it really helps to highlight the challenges involved in using natural resources, and the importance of both personal responsibility and the actions we take as a community.
Who is this simulation aimed at?
The game is designed for young people between the ages of 13 and 30. However, it was crucial to reach out to professionals who wanted an interesting and fun educational tool to use with the groups of young people. Just a few examples, teachers in public schools, youth workers with informal groups or NGOs, librarians, educators and scout leaders have been interested in using New Shores. Rather than trying to deliver lots of dry, theoretical information, we concentrated on creating an engaging game that would get youngsters expressing their opinions and discussing the issues it raises. In this way, teachers or group leaders can direct the debate without having to be at the centre of it.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Where did you get the idea?
Back in the 2000s, we had started to organise computer modelling workshops in Poland, and used games. Participants just loved it! That’s how we came up with the idea of making ‘gamification’ – creating fun games that serve as serious education tools – the focus of our organisation. We soon took up the challenge of publicising sustainability ideas across Poland and Europe, and were fortunate to meet our future Hungarian partner who has a person-centred approach to education. We began working together on a project focusing on games that would address social responsibility and sustainability issues, and applied for a grant.
Can you tell us about your development team?
It was a great meeting of minds and skills! Since TANDEM n.o. (our Slovakian partner) works with youngsters daily, they came up with the methodological design for using the tool with young people. With experience in new teaching methods, the Rogers Foundation in Hungary became responsible for publicising the game and organised an e-learning course for teachers and educators who wanted to try it. Our organisation meanwhile managed the actual programming and graphic design of the game. We also collaborated on translating the game and all accompanying materials, which are now available in English, Polish, Hungarian, Slovakian and Greek!