eCUTE developed MIXER (Moderating Interactions for Cross-Cultural Empathic Relationships), an innovative technologically-enhanced learning application that will help children to deal with meeting and interacting with those who are different to themselves. MIXER is a virtual world simulation with intelligent interactive characters embodying models of behaviour and interaction. MIXER will help children to understand that difference can be a good thing!
It is a narrative based game played on a PC with an iPad. The narrative behind the game is a story in which two groups of children arrive at a summer camp. Having never met each other the children encounter differences during the playing of a game called Werewolves.
In eCUTE the pragmatic decision to base MIXER on FearNot! (Fun with Empathic Agents Reaching Novel Outcomes in Teaching) was to significantly reduce development time. Re-using this architecture enabled development effort to focus on the extension of FearNot! to incorporate cultural factors.
FearNot! is a school-based Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) consisting of synthetic characters representing the various actors in a scenario related to bullying issues. FearNot! uses emergent narrative to create episodes with those characters. The goal of FearNot! is to enable children to explore bullying issues, and coping strategies, by interacting with characters to which they become affectively engaged. User empathy is triggered by the different properties of the characters such as their appearance, behaviours and emotions.