RESEARCHERS AT TRINITY College Dublin will lead the development of a new virtual reality game to train international military and police in peacekeeping skills.
The Gaming for Peace project has been funded by a €2 million grant from the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme.
Led by Trinity, it brings together 14 partners including the PSNI, the Finnish military, the Polish military and police force, the Ted Kennedy Institute at NUI Maynooth, Upskill in Belfast, and Irish computer games company Haunted Planted, led by Mads Haahr – an assistant professor in computer science in Trinity.
All military, police and civilian personnel being deployed in EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding missions such as those to Afghanistan, Palestine and Libya will be able to train through the game.
It will allow users to experience simulations of challenging scenarios from conflict and peacebuilding missions to learn communication and cooperation, gender awareness and cultural competency skills.
Playing a different gender of nationality
Entering the game as avatars, players will role-play as a member of another organisation, a different gender or nationality, and so will experience a variety of conflict zone scenarios from a range of different perspectives.
Anne Holohan, assistant professor at Trinity’s department of sociology and the coordinator of the Gaming for Peace project, said: “Current training for personnel involved in conflict prevention and peacebuilding missions does not prioritise the critical softer skills of communication and gender and cultural awareness.
Most missions require a variety of organisations to coordinate and cooperate together – militaries from different nations in Europe, police from all over Europe, civilian actors from different countries. Success in preventing conflict is to a considerable extent dependent on their ability to work together well in the mission.
Holohan added that training a large number of personnel before deployment on a mission is “expensive and logistically difficult”. She said Gaming for Peace is different as it will be accessible to all personnel with an internet connection.
The project is supported by the European Security and Defence College, which oversees the training of all EU personnel deployed on peacekeeping missions, NATO and a number of UN bodies.
It is expected to be completed by 2018.