Game Jam employed a participatory design approach to identify opportunities for an interactive game-based learning (GBL) tool on internet and social media safety, and to co-design this with young people with learning disabilities. The project involved a series of five Experience Labs to co-design the GBL tool with the young people and Local Area Co-ordinators (LACs)/trainers along with several Mini Labs intended to support this, and was followed by an evaluation session with young people and LACs on their experience of taking part in the Experience Labs. The project, spanning across five months, was carried out in partnership with the Midlothian Council and the University of the West of Scotland.

Image credit: Louise Mather

GAME JAM LOUISE MATHER ePatients Gamification
So this would be our meet-up game for all of us, we could all meet up and see ourselves, it’s like a kind of gathering and then you can go and do the missions with your friends so obviously I could go in a group with all of them and we could do missions together...

Workshop Participant

Film credit: Louise Mather


Key ideas related to participants’ preferences on the GBL tool experience included:

  • Clear instructions and navigation for starting and progressing in the game.

  • Realistic game environment that mirrored lived-experience.

  • Relatable characters in the game, including the option to create own ‘avatars’ or additional characters, along with option to interact with other players especially their friends in the training programme.

  • Learning formats including responding to multiple-choice questions, interacting with characters in the game, choice of repeating tasks to reinforce learning, visual formats such as building jigsaw puzzles, hints to help complete tasks, and the option to make mistakes in the game so they could learn what not to do in real life.

  • Rewards such as scores and trophies to increase motivation to engage in the game.

  • Peer support through options such as multi-player games.

  • Alignment with the wider training module, so they can discuss any additional thoughts or concerns with the LACs.

Preferences for the GBL tool from a trainer perspective included:

  • Clear instructions and messages (text and audio-based) to support progress and to provide encouragement for further engagement.

  • Emphasis on real consequences of choices and actions.

  • Flexibility to engage individuals with different capabilities and pace of learning.

  • Option for adapting, updating and customising content based on individual participants as well as evolving training content and resources.

  • Aligned with training module (chapter-based or level-based) to help evaluate and track participants’ progress on each training theme.

  • Compatibility with third-party training content (both online and offline), with access moderated by the LACs to ensure resources are legitimate and safe.

Read more about the insights and themes related to participants’ personal experiences of internet and social media use, challenges and perceived risks, and support needs in detail in the full report under 'Game Jam Resources' below.

Game Jam Resources

Read the full report here.

Related Publications

Raman, Sneha and French, Tara. 2021. Enabling genuine participation in co-design with young people with learning disabilities. CoDesign. DOI: 10.1080/15710882.2021.1877728

Usoro, Idong, Connolly, Thomas, Raman, Sneha, French, Tara and Caulfield, Stuart. 2016. Using Games Based Learning to Support Young People With Learning Disabilities Stay Safe Online. In: The 10th European Conference on Games Based Learning, 6-7 Oct 2016, University of the West of Scotland, UK.

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