12 November 2012

OHS isn't a game… or is it?

RMIT University is transforming how students learn about health and safety in the construction industry through a new OHS game, to be unveiled at the inaugural Games for Change Festival in Melbourne this week.

Trouble Tower is an innovative research project that enables construction students to experiment with workplace hazards without experiencing the physical repercussions, in an informative and entertaining game environment.

Dr Stefan Greuter, Associate Dean of Games and Animation in RMIT's School of Media and Communication, said high injury and incident rates were a concern in the construction industry.

"One of the key challenges for occupational health and safety training is to engage learners," Dr Greuter said.

"Serious games are promising vehicles for motivating learners to engage with concepts they may consider boring, and can also help enhance retention.

"Any process that can help reduce the costs associated with workplace injuries and fatalities in a construction environment will contribute to a sustainable future and will make our graduates more desirable in construction workplaces."

The Trouble Tower project is a transdisciplinary collaboration supported by RMIT's Games and Experimental Entertainment Laboratory (GEElab), host of the Games for Change Festival.

The research brought together RMIT experts from construction, communication, engineering and OHS as well as recent graduates from RMIT's Bachelor of Design (Games) program to examine how game playing improves student performance, increases retention of required knowledge and improves application.

Trouble Tower has been developed for iPad2 and 3, PC and Mac, and will be available free for download online and from the Apple App store in late November. It is expected to be introduced in RMIT classes in early 2013.

Preliminary testing with construction students has shown strong engagement with the game, with those who played it receiving better results in an OHS assessment task than the students who learned through standard approaches.

"If game playing proves to be a successful OHS learning tool in construction, the design can be applied to support the development of educational OHS games in other fields," Dr Greuter said.

They will be available for download online and from the Apple App store in late November and is expected to be introduced in RMIT classes in early 2013.

The research project was funded by the RMIT Learning and Teaching Investment Fund.

Dr Greuter will present the project at the Games for Change Festival, at RMIT's Design Hub, on Friday, 16 November.

The festival is the first event of its kind in Australia, bringing together organisations and individuals from the community sector, government, business, media, academia, the gaming industry and the arts to showcase the power of games as forces for social and business change.

Screen grab from OSH game, Trouble Tower

Students can experiment with workplace hazards without experiencing real-life repercussions.

Screen grab from OHS game, Trouble Tower

The project will be unveiled at the inaugural Games for Change Festival.



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Trouble Tower app icon

Trouble Tower has been developed for iPad2 and 3, PC and Mac.

Screen grab from OHS game, Trouble Tower

The game is transforming how students learn about health and safety in the construction industry.

Associate Professor Stefan Greuter

Associate Professor Stefan Greuter.