SGfuture engagement round-up

Gearing up for crises - by role playing

Gateway Entertainment's Mr Wan (far left), who suggested at an SGfuture dialogue that a role-playing game be created to educate students on what to do during a crisis, tried out some game scenarios with Dunman High students last month.
Gateway Entertainment's Mr Wan (far left), who suggested at an SGfuture dialogue that a role-playing game be created to educate students on what to do during a crisis, tried out some game scenarios with Dunman High students last month.PHOTO: SGFUTURE

Mr Wan Junyan, 41, is an avid gamer who believes digital games can be a great tool for teaching youngsters problem-solving skills.

"Children are going to play games anyway, so why not get them to play something that allows them to learn at the same time?" said the deputy chief executive of Gateway Entertainment, which puts up performances like magic shows.

It led him to suggest, at an SGfuture dialogue on national security in February, that a role-playing game be created to educate students on what to do during a crisis. His suggestion caught the attention of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and, together, they are working to turn the idea into reality.

He told The Straits Times yesterday that the crisis simulation game is scheduled to be ready next year, when it will be rolled out to secondary schools and junior colleges.

"The game will simulate real- world situations and players have to decide what to do, and this will affect how the game progresses," he said.

For instance, in the early stage of a crisis, "no one knows what happened, but people like to speculate and share on social media anyway".

"Players have to decide what to do in such a situation," he added.

In the process of making a decision, they will realise that even spreading misinformation among friends can cause confusion and get in the way of the authorities working to solve the crisis, said Mr Wan.

He and Mindef officials tried out some of their game scenarios with Dunman High students last month.

"Some were quite well informed about current affairs, while others never gave a thought to what they would do if a crisis happens here," he said.

"We have to take into account these different levels of awareness when designing the game."

Pearl Lee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'Gearing up for crises - by role playing'. Print Edition | Subscribe