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article imageNew video game tries to combat cyberbullying

By Al Boe     Dec 15, 2013 in Entertainment
A new simulation video game from Pixelberry Studios is teaming up with The Cybersmile Foundation to battle many issues a typical high school student goes through, including bullying.
Oliver Miao, Winston She, and Keith Emnett, who formerly worked at Electronic Arts (EA), were the developers behind High School Story, which is described on Fast Company as a "virtual space that's popular with real teens".
The game is working to combat cyberbullying in particular. A gamespot article says that the internet based form of bullying "is believed to affect one in six U.S. teens every year."
While the game was not originally intended to be used to tackle the issue, a large number of suicides amongst bullied teens caused the developers to add "quests" in the game that focused around a character named Hope, who is bullied. The player is tasked with helping Hope deal with the bullying.
Miao was interviewed by Fast Company about what inspired the group to develop such a plotline for the game: "We had a player contact us telling us she was planning to kill herself," says Miao. "We called the suicide prevention hotline ourselves and started exchanging messages with her, and a week later she told us she was getting help and told us it was because of our game that she was still here. It was a really powerful experience that showed us that we could make a difference."
According to Game Spot, Players will make use of "sensitive, realistic messaging" techniques created in collaboration with cyberbullying charity The Cybersmile Foundation in the game...
The Washington Post points out: The team at Pixelberry worked with the cyberbullying charity Cybersmile to strike the right tone for the arc -- making it educational but not too disturbing for younger players. In fact, Miao said, the bullying experts they contacted told the developers that they could "push things more in terms making them really real about the problems that teens had" in order to add authenticity. "And as we wrote it, we did make it darker than we’d anticipated."
After being released over the summer, High School Story became instantly popular, having over 4 million iOS downloads to date. Half of the revenue of in-game purchases will go to Cybersmile. According to allthingsd, the company expects to donate more than $100,000
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