In 2011 we wrote about a then new virtual reality game produced by Kent University, designed to help train social workers called “Rosie, Virtually Safe”.

The idea was excellent – to simulate real life child protection scenarios, in a safe environment in order to train social workers. The reality was unfortunately very different. Poor graphics, terrible narratives and even more concerning multiple choice options which lacked depth and understanding left the ‘game’ really wanting.

Now, six years on, and with a new interactive experience under her belt, Rosie has made another appearance in ‘My Courtroom: Rosie’s Family Goes To Court‘.

In this virtual reality game, which outlines a private family law matter this time around involving Rosie and her biological father, social work professionals are invited to discuss solutions and look at potential issues arising from the scenario.

If early user experiences are anything to go by there appear to have been some encouraging improvements in the new game. Unlike the first game “Virtually Safe”, you now get to see Rosie and meet her. You can also hear her thoughts, which is clever and hopefully will foster empathy and a better awareness of how children feel, though much will depend on the quality of thought featured in the game.

Interestingly, several social workers said the new game triggered emotional responses from them which motivated them to engage better with the simulation – an important point, as emotion and its huge potential for problem solving when channelled properly, is often left out of the equation in social work.

Other fantastic additions include the highlighting of cultural variations within the family courts and the placement of subtle signs of neglect to test the ‘player’ in the ‘game’.

Researching Reform was kindly invited to Kent University in 2012 shortly after the first Rosie game was produced. We had played the game and we were very concerned by one particular aspect. We couldn’t see any ‘best practice’ scenarios or guidance within the game. When we asked the professors who had created the game whether best practice guidelines could be accessed within the game, the professors confirmed that there weren’t any. All the game required of its player was a text book defined ‘good enough’ response, which is currently nowhere near ‘good enough’ in real life. Whilst there is no indication that “My Courtroom” includes any best practice guidelines, information published suggests that at least discussions about best practice should be encouraged. It’s a start, but we hope the game also includes a very thorough set of options to the dilemmas it poses, which include cutting edge child protection responses.

Have you played “My Courtroom”? We’d love to know what you think of the game.

UPDATE 6TH APRIL, 2017 – It looks as if a second version of the game will be made for service users. We’ll keep you posted.

Rosie Goes To Court