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2015

Graduation stories – designing games for carers

24 September 2015

Justyna Cala and Scott Wares

After graduating, Justyna Cala and Scott Wares spent the summer developing new games to help young carers in Dundee build up their network of friends.

The work formed part of a project called , run by Dawn Carmichael in collaboration with Dundee Carers Centre.

UPBEET is helping carers aged 16-30 in Dundee overcome the challenges of social isolation, reduced opportunities for leisure activities, and barriers to developing friendship networks.

What did your summer project involve?

Justyna: “The main focus was to study best practices of other social media games in order to incorporate some of them into games that we were building for the UPBEET platform.

“The games for UPBEET were particularly challenging as they were, unlike most social networking games, supposed to be a social icebreaker – helping to expand one’s social circles.”

How can social games help engage with young carers?

Scott: “Young carers often feel vulnerable and isolated, often shying from social interaction. Meeting and interacting with other young carers through online social games helps break that initial social awkwardness.”

Justyna: “Young carers often have a very limited amount of spare time to socialise compared to their peers. The games we have developed are supposed to help them break the ice with other carers that are in a similar situation.

“During my time as a research assistant I developed a game called Friend Connection which is an icebreaker type of game that checks for common ground between the UPBEET users – it achieves that by fun and casual quiz sessions asking about hobbies and simple preferences.”

What's your favourite memory of Abertay?

Justyna: “My favourite memory is my Honours project I worked on in my last year at Abertay. It was about Fog Computing – an area previously unknown to me. However, my interest in the subject helped me with giving my all to the project, with an enormous amount of help from my supervisor, Dr Geoffrey Lund.

“Since the project was particularly challenging to me, I was really happy to see it completed successfully.”

Scott: “It's hard to pick a single one! Many nights out, watching football in the Sports Bar, group study sessions around exam time and graduation.”

Do you have a message for students starting university this year?

Scott: “Don't leave your coursework until the week it's due. Start it when it gets assigned. It's easier to identify problems early on, and lecturers can reply to your emails faster if you ask them questions before they get swamped with emails from students leaving it to the last minute.”

Justyna: “Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself – take opportunities that university will offer you and do your best at them – this will definitely benefit your experience and reward you.

“I would especially like to encourage students to take part in Erasmus internships and exchanges – that kind of experience expands your horizons and prepares you for professional life after graduation.”

To find out more about studying at Abertay, please visit the courses page.

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