The Learning Games Network, a non-profit spin-off of the MIT Education Arcade and the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Games+Learning+Society Program, today launched Quandary, a unique game that encourages players to think ethically as they lead a human colony struggling for survival on fictional planet Braxos. The game’s goal is to provide an engaging experience for players aged 8-14 to strengthen foundational skills that help them recognize ethical issues and deal with ethical situations in their own lives.
“We aimed to achieve something unique with Quandary,” said Scot Osterweil, Creative Director of the Learning Games Network. “Although many games have design elements that engage players in critical thinking, perspective-taking and decision-making,Quandary directly addresses these essential competencies.”
Quandary’s captivating graphic novel style invokes a world where pre-industrial technology meets fantastical science ﬁction as human colonists attempt to build a viable outpost on a distant planet. Faced with a series of age-appropriate ethical dilemmas, players must make difficult decisions in which there are no clear right or wrong answers but important consequences – to themselves, to others in the colony and to the planet Braxos. Quandary provides a framework for how to approach ethical decision-making without telling players what to think.
“Quandary aims to help children develop their moral compass,” said Marina Bers, Associate Professor at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University. “It engages kids in ethical thinking and prepares them for playing positive future roles in society.”
Quandary was developed by a team of experts across the fields of child development, social and emotional learning, moral development and game design. Scholars from Harvard and Tufts University devised a prototype that was tested for viability. Designers at the MIT Education Arcade and the Learning Games Network refined the game, which was produced by FableVision, an award-winning digital production and learning company.
“Now more than ever, teens and pre-teens need help to recognize ethical issues and to handle the complicated ethical situations they encounter in their day-to-day lives,” said Shelly London, a retired corporate executive who conceived the idea of an ethics game while a fellow in the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative. “Gaming has great potential to enable young people to actively experience ethical dilemmas, to make decisions and to see the immediate consequences of their actions.”
Play the game, watch the trailer, and access the support site at: www.quandarygame.org