Video games are a significant component of children’s lives in the United States. According to a 2009 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a child in the United States (age 8-18) spends an average of 73 minutes per day playing games. Because a well-designed game can engage a child’s attention for entertainment purposes, it only makes sense to leverage this interest in a way that can have a meaningful impact on children’s learning and development.
In collaboration with the Games+Learning+Society Center, we've developed two pilot games: Tenacity and Crystals of Kaydor. We designed Tenacity in efforts to help children improve and learn to self-regulate their attention. Crystals of Kaydor is designed to help children develop pro-social behavior, particularly sensitivity to the non-verbal behavior of others. In addition, the game seeks to promote social interactions with peers that are collaborative, cooperative and kind.
Improving children’s skills in detecting subtle social signals is a key building block for empathy and compassion throughout life. To determine if both games have their intended effects, we are evaluating the effects of gameplay using neuroimaging and behavioral measures.