Video game helps train Edmonton bar staff to prevent sexual violence

Click to play video: 'Video game helps train Edmonton nightlife staff to prevent sexual violence' Video game helps train Edmonton nightlife staff to prevent sexual violence
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A video game is helping Edmonton nightlife staff keep patrons safe.

It’s Your Move is part of a training program for employees of bars and restaurants offered at the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton and the University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre.

Kenzie Gordon, a PhD student at the University of Alberta, created the game. She is currently studying how video games can be used to prevent sexual violence.

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In the game, you play the role of a bartender at “Club Flux.”

“The character goes through a shift at a terrible bar where there are not so great things happening,” she said.

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Examples include a co-worker who is being harassed by a patron, an individual trying to get out of a date with someone who makes them feel uncomfortable and a patron being pressured into drinking.

A scene from It’s Your Move. Courtesy: Kenzie Gordon

Characters in the game provide feedback to the choices the player makes.

“People can make a mistake in a safe environment and see what the ramifications of a mistake would be,” Gordon said.

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The game is part of an in-person training program that bar staff throughout the Edmonton-area participate in.

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“You have to apply the skills you would’ve learned through the training process to intervene in some potentially dangerous situations of sexual violence,” she explained.

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“You play the game on a tablet during the training session to have an opportunity to practise your skills and discuss what you would’ve done different.”

Gordon recently won a University of Alberta Alumni Association innovation award for It’s Your Move.

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Gordon said people enjoy having a more interactive tool to use during training.

“They have to be used intentionally and games are not appropriate for every setting, especially in the sexual and domestic violence field,” she said. “As long as they are provided intentionally there’s lots of opportunity.”

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Gordon said the number one barrier to bystander intervention is that people don’t feel comfortable applying their skills in real-life situations.

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“This gives them a really great opportunity to practise that before they get to the scenario, so they have an idea of what will happen in the actual moment.”

Gordon also created the app Flourish, developed in partnership with the Family Violence Prevention Centre at Edmonton John Howard Society.

“It’s an information and resource app for survivors of domestic violence in Edmonton,” she said.

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It has information about the cycle of violence and safety planning, resources available for survivors in the Edmonton-area and information about court processes.

“[These games] provide a jumping-off point for conversation. I hope games get more integrated into learning environments.”

Flourish is free on both Google Play and the App Store. It’s Your Move is not yet available outside the training program at SACE.

Are you in an abusive relationship? If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Otherwise, for help and information on how to safely leave, visit the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters website or call toll free 1-866-331-3933.

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