Case study: Game Jam

Keeping young people safe online

Like their peers, young people with learning difficulties want to use social media and the Internet, but their disability can sometimes make them more vulnerable to the risks. The Experience Labs’ Game Jam project sought to create design requirements for a computer game to encourage safe practice online.

Working with partners Midlothian Council and the Scottish Centre for Enabling Technologies at University of West of Scotland, the design team provided a platform to identify user needs and validate content developed by the local authority for training purposes.

A series of five labs was held during 2015, involving a group of young people with learning difficulties and local area coordinators.

Design played a significant part by helping to shape engagement tailored to the group. Tools and artefacts proved particularly useful in making the process inclusive and were crafted to enable iteration towards the final gaming concept in sequential stages.

Early activities included story-sharing and mapping, before moving on to exploration of possible solutions. Participants built their own superhero and decided on characters, story and setting. They co-designed the game with the lab team, before the Scottish Centre for Enabling Technologies developed a prototype. This was tested by participants in the final lab, allowing designers and partners to assess the extent to which it met learning needs.

The proof of concept for the game met the learning needs of the young people and the requirements of the trainers. The participants’ scenarios were integrated to set a realistic context for learning, while ensuring that the game remained fun and engaging. The iterative design approach enabled the development of concepts that were appropriately tailored to the needs and skills of the young people. By involving everyone in the design process, the Labs allowed participants to feel a level of ownership over the final game.

UWS has since directed this product into a commercial spin-off and are continuing to work with DHI to take forward this opportunity to a commercial application.


Using games-based learning to support young people with learning disabilities stay safe onlineUsoro, Idong; Connolly, Thomas; Raman, Sneha; French, Tara, and Caulfield, Stuart (2016)

You can watch a video about Game Jam on The Glasgow School of Art’s research depository:

Contact: Sneha Raman, [email protected]

Experience Lab Game Jam

Young people in a Game Jam lab. Image credit: Louise Mather