Tuesday, 01 May, 2007 Technology
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Overcoming the Culture Shock with a Mobile Phone Game

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A games technology expert from the University of Portsmouth, Nipan Minar is leading the development of a new interactive mobile phone game for students in the UK to help them overcome the culture shock. This is expected to be achieved through pictures of students drinking alcohol or a couple kissing in public, integrated into the game - things not allowed in certain cultures.

The game is called C-Shock and it is being developed by Nipan Minar, who himself arrived five years ago from India to study in the UK. Nipan is being helped by his assistant - Emily Bennett.

C-Shock is intended to become an electronic guide for new international students arriving in the UK for their studies. The developer of the game himself admits that when he arrived in the UK five years ago, he found everything very unusual and different from what he was used to see at home.

It was this fact that pushed Nipan Minar to design this electronic guide for his 'student fellows' as he said that when international students arrive in the UK, everything was different for them and they hardly know an appropriate reaction to certain events.

Mr. Minar's game has firstly gained support from the International Office of the University and the British Council before its development started.

The scenario of the game is quite simple: it follows an international student, who arrived in the UK for his/her study. The main goal of the player is to reduce the character's 'culture shock' from the default 100 points to zero. To do this a series of tasks is necessary, such as dealing with images and small scenes of students' life, which could arouse a culture shock by international students.

The opening episode of the game is the student's first day in the UK. The character receives a map and some tasks to find different locations within the campus. These tasks are to help the student accommodate with the new environment. While clicking images along the game the student is being warned about the scenes he/she might encounter in a specific location of the campus.

The purpose of the game is not just help a student overcome the culture shock, but also to introduce new information, such as the police phone number, the way to the nearest bank or ATM and other important things. According to Mr. Minar, technically it would be possible to enclose a guide of a city into the game, so it becomes a sort of a navigation system for the student.

The game is expected to be used by other universities as well, as the potential of the game is not limited. The fact that C-Shock has a great advertising potential should draw attention from different organizations too. As a matter of fact, international students are most likely to follow an advertisement, as they are not experienced as in where to go to eat, to buy clothes and to do other necessary things. Thus the ability to incorporate advertisements into the game is very valuable.

The game is expected to be available for download later this year on the site of the University of Portsmouth.

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