Fighting Sexual Assault and Teaching Empathy with Video Games

[content note: military sexual assault]

There’s a decent chance that you’ve seen some of the increasingly depressing news about sexual assault in the United States military. Marine Major Mark Thompson was sentenced to sixty days in jail and a large fine for an incident involving accusations of aggravated sexual assault in June.

jeffrey-krusinski_custom-a77c69dbaba10bb014f98423bd854f682b33c472-s6-c30In May of this year, Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, head of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was arrested for sexual assault, specifically groping. That same month, USA Today reported that an Army sergeant at Fort Hood in charge of sexual assault prevention was under investigation for a number of charges, included: being investigated for abusive sexual contact, pandering, assault and maltreatment of subordinates.

These incidents serve as backdrop for an endemic sexual assault problem in our armed forces. “Unwanted sexual contact” is reportedly up 35% versus 2010, as measures to address the glossing over of sexual assault by unit commanders are repeatedly rebuffed by the legislative branch of our government.

OrganicMotionLiveThis is disheartening news, but it’s worth nothing that in some ways the problem is being addressed both seriously and creatively. Organic Motion, Inc. has been contracted to develop a video game for the Navy for the “Avatar Based Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Training.” Organic Motion specializes in motion capture and already supports the US Armed Forces with similar interactive training technology, mostly to assess combat readiness. The sexual assault prevention program appears to be Kinect-based and rather in-depth, with a few cool moving parts.

“The system shall allow a subject matter expert to determine the appropriate response to both verbal and non-verbal cues so that the student receives improved feedback regarding their actions,” the contract reads. “It shall also provide the ability to change characters (gender, race) and environments facilitating greater student engagement.”

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