Respect is a trans-disciplinary multimedia project focused on the impact of bullying and other stressors on young students, made as a collaboration between Play 4 Change, DePaul University students and faculty, and students at elementary schools in Englewood.
Respect, through the creation of biographical videos and simple narrative games, allows Englewood students to artistically give voice to their own circumstances and problems while also raising the awareness of bullying – and its impact on emotional, mental, and physical health – as a critical social issue.
Respect is an ongoing endeavor supported by DePaul students and faculty from the Video Game Development and Digital Cinema disciplines (including previous Play 4 Change collaborator Anuradha Rana), as well as a research team from DePaul University Health Sciences overseen by Kathryn Grant (a DePaul professor of Psychology). The Video Game Development and Digital Cinema students travel to Englewood schools every other week, collaborating with Englewood students in three groups – ultimately aiming to make three different games.
Respect is a part of a much larger mentorship initiative directed by the Health Sciences research team, the goal of which is to reduce high school dropout rates and increase college attendance of underserved students in poor neighborhoods such as Englewood. Our Respect project is more about process than product, because it increases adult/student ratio and provides a perspective of things to do with one’s life. By making games, we aim to do something that captivates students’ interests, but also gives them a real-life means to think through and talk about scenarios in which they felt respected or disrespected and how they dealt with it. We don’t expect the games themselves to be teaching tools on how to cope with bullying.
We only have one university term in which to pull this off, which is why we are creating platformer prefabs (generic, repeatable game objects that can be easily duplicated and altered), which we will alter to fit the themes identified in discussions with the Englewood students.
Respect’s goal is not so much to produce a final end product as it is to give the Englewood students a creative and effective process for having their experiences understood. We hope, however, that the final game produced in collaboration with the Englewood students can serve as a model for other schools to do something similar in regard to stimulating dialogue about important and difficult social issues.