The NEMESIS project aims to combine education with social innovation to empower young people to address the social issues of the future and become the changemakers of tomorrow. In order to fullfil this ambition, it is important that young people realise that their efforts are not only important at the micro-level, but also for the common good. However, in terms of self-efficacy, students are not always necessarily aware that their abilities and resources enable them to influence social change in an innovative way. In order to support the students in their expectations of self-efficacy and to sensitize them to the concerns of the social future in sense of empathy, a serious game is being developed.
The game logic is based on a combination of elements from adventure and open-world games. This means that aspects like interactive stories, exploration, puzzle-solving and challenges are combined with free, customized and non-linear parts in such a way that they can be used in the classroom. The storyline of the game brings the player as a citizen to NEMESIS City who aims to increase the well-being and happiness of the inhabitants of this city with your “social innovation power”. In line with the NEMESIS approach, the Co-Creation Lab gives the opportunity to work on emerging problems in collaboration with teachers, social innovators and parents. The general goal is to make the city as happy as possible.
By implementing actions and tasks for social innovation, the player is rewarded with happiness points and can increase the happiness level of the residents. As more tasks are solved, the more satisfied the city becomes. In this way, the value of social innovation in society can be demonstrated to the player. Besides the Co-Creation Lab and the Happiness Points, the city map is an important element of the game. Here the different missions are presented clearly and the player can choose freely between them.
The city consists of different living spaces (e.g. nature, school, village, neighbourhood) and thus offers various possibilities for identification. The player is also provided with opportunities for identification through the selection of different game characters.
To illustrate how a game action looks in particular, the example of the social innovation mission “Public Bookshelf” can be used. The player receives a request for help from the NPC on the city map, which shows the importance of reading, but also the possible limited accessibility of books. The problem is thus addressed by the NPC and identified by the player.
Now it is the player’s task to find out how this issue can be resolved. To do this, the player collaborates with the NPCs in the Co-Creation Lab in form of dialogues and obtains knowledge about the potential problem-solving approaches. Questions and answers help the player to find out more about social innovations and elaborate on the solution to the problem. In this context and as part of the learning experience, the three NPCs – teacher, parent and social innovator – offer the player different role models with different attitudes and ideas. The player now realises, after completing the conversations, that the social innovation of the public bookcase will help him to solve the problem successfully.
Social innovation can now be tried out in a protected environment and the effects and consequences are made more comprehensible. In this way, it can be shown what young people can achieve with their efforts. This involves active engagement with the topic and the emotional experience during the learning process. Information or hints, which are now needed to solve the tasks, can be obtained by NPC communication or exploring game objects. Social innovations are implemented through the collection and combination of game objects.
Now in order to set up the public bookshelf, for example, the player needs the permission of the school principal to set up the shelf on the school grounds, which he will get through the conversation.
The task can be completed by examining and finding objects, such as finding a suitable place in the schoolyard, getting a bookshelf from the caretaker, and collecting books.
The use or combination of objects then makes it possible to set up the bookshelf with the exchange books in the schoolyard. After solving the task, the player will receive feedback, further information no social innovation and happiness points for the City.
Now, the player can start to answer the next call for help and accordingly develop the next social innovation together with the NPCs in the Co-Creation Lab. In order to integrate the game into a school lesson, several missions are available that focus on the implementation of different social innovation projects.
The scenarios covered in the game are based on the Social Innovation Projects developed by the students at the Nemesis pilot schools. This approach values the students’ efforts and illustrates possible social innovation practices to other young people who will be addressed by the game. Other possible missions then deal, for example, with the question of how community members can be made happier, how fast fashion and existing resources can be handled more sustainably, how healthy nutrition can be made available to all regardless of social status, how wildlife habitats can be protected and how inequalities can be reduced. The need for action in these areas is addressed and dealt with comprehensively in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The learning outcome of the game is to introduce social innovation, address examples and highlight the impact on society. These topics should help to achieve the objectives of addressing the issues of social innovation, by promoting students’ self-efficacy expectations and offering a positive emotional learning experience. In summary, the unique and innovative aspect of the game is the topic, the combination of social innovation education and game-based learning. In order to raise young people’s awareness of social issues of the future and to create the changemakers of tomorrow.
Innovation in Learning Institute (FAU)