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REAL LIFE PROJECT, Serious Gaming for Prisoners

Ed Santman is a Dutch community artist who works with prisoners on a regular basis. He told EPALE about the Erasmus+ project Real Life that has just started.

Credit: Real Life Project


Ed Santman is a Dutch community artist who works with prisoners on a regular basis. He told EPALE about the Erasmus+ project Real Life that he is involved in.


RealLife is an innovative project in which serious gaming and virtual reality are used to improve skills needed in the 21st century and skills needed for employability aiming at those at the edge of society, especially prisoners. Training skills in a safe and virtual reality will help prisoners to function in real life, give them new skills and enhance their sense of initiative. 


The objective of the project, is to develop an innovative tool, the Real Life game with a certificate that validates the process of informal learning, that takes place while playing the game. Real Life will design a strong tool for disadvantaged groups by implementing seven pilots in six European countries that will include 80 prisoners, 14 mentors and 35 prison guards. Focus will be on different groups, youngsters between 17 and 23, woman and (older) men. 


The ultimate target groups of Real Life are those who lack basic skills and failed in the traditional education system. Within this group the focus is on those who have been, or threaten to become in contact with Justice and criminal law.

Not only digital literacy is low among this group, a lack of skills, necessary for finding a job often leads to an existence in the margins of society.  Many of them have bad experiences with regular formal education. The innovative approach of Real Life will offer them opportunities for working on the improvement of basic skills and competences. We will use digital tools like Serious Gaming (SG) and Virtual Reality (VR) as an effective strategy to work on their soft skills and thus improve their chances on employability. Another important target group are the future mentors, people working directly with prisoners or other disadvantaged groups), like educational staff within prison or people from local organizations. 


The use of gamification is a user-friendly method that can be delivered on an individual basis to promote employability and reduce recidivism for prisoners. To measure effectiveness of the serious game, the partners will study the rate of recidivism in the first 48 hours to two months after prisoners leave detention.


This way the projectpartners are able to measure the impact of the game almost immediately and improve the game. The game will focus on new learning possibilities to be applied in prisons: digital tools, games that educate, train and inform, can provide an alternative sustainable learning tool for disadvantaged groups. Many among the end-users have learning disabilities and reject more traditional teaching approaches. 


With the current possibilities digital media offer, it is realistic to expect that a team of experts, like the partners from Nottingham Trent University, will be able to develop a working serious game in a virtual environment during project Real Life.  


Project partners:

  • Click F1 (The Netherlands) is constructed as a network organization on project basis. Click F1 invests using art and culture, sports and media, directly or indirectly in the future of children and adolescents.
  • C&C (The Netherlands) is a network organization realizing professional educational programs with creative media as a tool for the underprivileged and people who have been, or threaten to become in contact with Justice and criminal law. 
  • Nottingham Trent University (United Kingdom) This project will be developed by the Interactive Systems Research group (ISRG) within the Computing and Informatics Team, which develops and evaluates virtual environments, serious games and assistive technologies to promote the social inclusion of all EU citizens.
  • HITECO (Lithuania) is a private non-profit institution offering guidance in advanced technologies and providing various services, consultancy, training and developments in information communication technology field.
  • STEPS (Italy) was born to elaborate and manage projects able to stimulate the personal growth of citizens, and the social and economic development of territories and organizations, both public and private, respecting the environment and the social cohesion.
  • CHAINS ((The Netherlands) Change Institutions SMART) is an organization with the ambition to have more humane and effective (justice) systems on a national, European and international level for all people incarcerated, either mentally of physical, by combining the knowledge of science, governments, society and artists and create innovative projects with measurable results. 
  • Accord International (Czech Republic) was established in 2010 in Prague, it provides complex services in different sectors. It brings together consultants and project managers covering professionally the fields of education, culture, ICT, support to SMEs, regional development, sustainable development, social policies, enhancement of active employment policy, social integration and others.  
  • Kocaeli Open Correctional Institution is a prison in Izmit, near Istanbul that houses 450 prisoners. The purpose of the Institution is rehabilitation. The education department is actively involved in the rehabilitation process of prisoners; it organizes training and socio-cultural activities. English, computer and (digital) literacy courses are some of them. 

The Real Life project expects to have a website at the beginning of february: www.reallifeproject.eu 

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