SINGAPORE - Games are no longer just child's play, with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) planning to use a gaming format to help young offenders turn their lives around.
It is exploring the digitilisation of two core rehabilitation programmes, Law and Order and Victim Impact, that will include an online gaming format where probationers make decisions on real-life challenges.
Law and Order educates probationers on the laws here and the role of law and order in society.
Victim Impact helps probationers be more aware of the harm caused by their crime so that they can develop empathy and think through the consequences of their actions.
An MSF spokesman said: "Research has shown that participants, especially the younger ones, are cognitively engaged in a gamification format. In addition, gamification can be used to educate participants on key concepts and encourage reflections of their actions."
Probation officers are also able to gain insight into the probationer's thought process through the game, so as to better support their rehabilitation.
The MSF spokesman said that, before the pandemic, the two programmes used to be delivered in a group format, with participants attending in person.
But the circuit breaker last year and safe distancing measures have led to programmes being run virtually, which is another reason to further explore digitilisation initiatives. This is especially so given that probationers are tech-savvy, and many are gamers.
The spokesman said the digital programmes are targeted to be piloted by early- to mid-2022, after going through a series of user testing.
Ms Lena Teo, director of therapy and mental wellness at Children-At-Risk Empowerment Association, said that gaming can be an effective intervention tool for young offenders if it is used properly.
Using the gaming approach may motivate probationers to work towards their rehabilitation goals, as many enjoy gaming, she added.