Researchers from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) are currently working with game developers, Duck Duck Zeus, to create a computer game which explores findings from the UK’s cohort studies.
Using information from the 1958 National Child Development Study, 1970 British Cohort Study, Millennium Cohort Study and Next Steps, ‘Jacob’ (working title) will give players an interactive opportunity to follow hypothetical individuals as they make their way through life.
Dr David Bann, of CLS, and Professor Andrew Burn, of the UCL Institute of Education, are leading the collaborative project, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.
“Computer games are an extremely promising avenue for public engagement with science – they are used by many millions around the world and even simple games can tackle serious and complicated themes,” explains Dr Bann. “The game will enable members of the public to engage with quantitative research findings from longitudinal studies, and become familiar with concepts important to social science such as risk and variance.”
The 2D puzzle game, which will be available for PC, tablet and mobile in the spring, will challenge players to assemble ladder-like objects out of a number of different pieces. Players need to build upwards while avoiding or overcoming different obstacles. Unlike most computer games, players will not start off equally – the game difficulty will depend on both random variation and on the early life socioeconomic conditions selected at the beginning of the game.
The more challenging the circumstances, the more difficult it will be on average to assemble the pieces to get to the top of the ladder and complete the game.
At the end of each game, players will be able to find out more about the possible influence of different socioeconomic conditions, through the published findings from peer-reviewed journal articles, which have used data from the cohort studies housed at CLS.
Notes for editors
1. The UCL Institute of Education is a world-leader specialising in education and the social sciences. Founded in 1902, the Institute currently has more than 7,000 students and 800 staff. In the 2014 and 2015 QS World University Rankings, the Institute was ranked number one for education worldwide. It was shortlisted in the ‘University of the Year’ category of the 2014 Times Higher Education (THE) awards. In January 2014, the Institute was recognised by Ofsted for its ‘outstanding’ initial teacher training across primary, secondary and further education. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework, 94 per cent of our research was judged to be world class. On 2 December 2014, the Institute became a single-faculty school of UCL, called the UCL Institute of Education. www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe
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3. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest funder of research on the social and economic questions facing us today. It supports the development and training of the UK’s future social scientists and also funds major studies that provide the infrastructure for research. ESRC-funded research informs policymakers and practitioners and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. The ESRC also works collaboratively with six other UK research councils and Innovate UK to fund cross-disciplinary research and innovation addressing major societal challenges. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government. www.esrc.ac.uk