Thursday 20 October 2011

Computer games will target discrimination of immigrant and refugee job seekers


The project will be presented at the International Technologies and Games conference
The project will be presented at the International Technologies and Games conference

It is essential that we work to remove the barriers to employment which immigrants and refugees so often experience.
Professor David Brown, Nottingham Trent University
This project is really making a difference to the members of our focus groups.
Jacqueline Lewis, Greenhat Interactive

Nottingham Trent University is working on a novel approach to help the high number of immigrants and refugees who encounter discrimination when looking for work in the UK. Experts at the University are involved in a major European project to develop a series of interactive computer games designed specifically to break down the attitudinal and discriminatory barriers which these groups face when seeking employment.

The first of its kind initiative is among a range of groundbreaking research projects and ideas due to be presented at the fourth international conference Interactive Technologies and Games: Education, Health and Disability, at Nottingham Trent University on October 25 and 26.

Research for the two year project - Promoting Acceptance Using Simulated Environments (PAUSE ) - has revealed that at least half of immigrants and refugees have experienced racism or discrimination while looking for work, or in the workplace.

Academics from the University's Interactive Systems Research Group are now developing the innovative games, featuring 3D scenarios which will aim to demonstrate and address discriminatory behaviour. They are working closely with social enterprise Greenhat Interactive on the project as well as key partners in Italy and Sweden. The project is being funded by the Leonardo Programme.

The games will be accessible online via a newly created project website and will be aimed at job centres and employers, as well as immigrants and refugees themselves. Users will be encouraged to make choices in the game when presented with a variety of situations, such as when shortlisting and interviewing candidates, and this will lead to a range of possible outcomes and consequences.

A key part of the game will also be a focus on myth-busting specifically in relation to the employment of immigrants and refugees, such as the displacement of jobs for UK workers and checks against the employment of illegal immigrants.

The games are being produced following detailed focus groups, during which immigrants and refugees from across the globe have highlighted the barriers they have personally experienced whilst looking for work. Examples have ranged from blatant discrimination, right through to potential employers failing to understand the necessary paperwork of the applicant and so not progressing an application.

David Brown, Professor in Interactive Systems for Social Inclusion in Nottingham Trent University's School of Science and Technology, said: "It is essential that we work to remove the barriers to employment which immigrants and refugees so often experience, we want to bring about a major change in employers' attitudes.

"Taking Birmingham as an example, evidence suggests that almost two thirds of male refugees and more than three quarters of female refugees are unemployed. Why is this the case? Many of these people are desperate to work, and highly qualified, but might find themselves hindered by something as simple as employers not understanding their documentation."

Jacqueline Lewis, the chief executive of Greenhat Interactive, said: "This project is really making a difference to the members of our focus groups - the fact that the partnership is showing an interest in the problems they face and is trying to do something to address these barriers has really boosted their confidence and they are enjoying being part of such an interesting and important project."

The Interactive Technologies and Games conference is organised by the University's Centre for Contemporary Play, in conjunction with the annual videogames festival, GameCity, which is taking place in Nottingham from October 26-29.

Other cutting-edge research being presented will include supporting autistic students' learning using mobile robots, the therapeutic benefits of videogames, and the development of a virtual reality system for home-based limb rehabilitation following a stroke.

Notes to editors:

The PAUSE project also involves key partners the Province of Parma in Italy and the Swedish TelePedagogic Knowledge Centre.

Find out more about the Interactive Technologies and Games conference

For press enquiries please contact Dave Rogers, Senior Press Officer, Nottingham Trent University, on +44 (0)115 848 8782, or via email. Alternatively, contact Therese Easom, Press and Internal Communications Manager, Nottingham Trent University, on +44 (0)115 848 8774, or via email.