Computer game combats culture shock for foreign students

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The Independent Tech

International students arriving in Britain this week are coping with their culture shock by playing an innovative new computer game developed at the University of Portsmouth.





The online game, C-Shock, helps students from overseas adjust to life in Britain and prepares them for the cultural challenges they will encounter such as the availability of alcohol and seeing people kissing in public.



The website has already had over 16,000 hits with many more expected in the week when hundreds of students arrive in the UK to take up their university place in an unfamiliar country.



C-shock is the brainchild of Nipan Maniar, senior lecturer in the School of Creative Technologies, who arrived in the UK from India eight years ago as an international student.



He said: "When I arrived in Britain I found some aspects of British culture very different to what I was used to in India and it was hard to know how to react or behave appropriately.



"When I became a student ambassador I noticed overseas students struggling with the same concepts I had grappled with myself and as a member of staff I decided to use technology to help."



The game follows an international student arriving in the UK for the first time. The student sees a map of the campus and is given tasks to find specific locations inside which they find a different game or quiz. Clicking on images triggers messages about images they may see on their travels as well as hints about life as a student such as how to manage money, live a healthy lifestyle and get a job.



The game also includes important information such as police and emergency telephone numbers.



Hundreds of international students will arrive at the University of Portsmouth this week and many will have already played C-shock after it was promoted in the communications they received from the University during the summer.



The University's International Director, Joe Docherty, said that feedback had been overwhelmingly positive. "Many of our students are from East Asia, the Gulf and West Africa where cultures are very different from our own. Some adapt to their new lives very quickly but for those who take longer to adjust there is a great deal of help and support and I'm delighted to see so many students taking advantage of C-shock."

Nipan said that the game can be tailored to suit other universities in the UK.

"It could even incorporate a whole city guide and become a useful interactive tool for tourists wanting to learn about a new city very quickly," Nipan said.

"Using games to communicate with people and to educate in this way takes the pain out of learning. Most people don't need to be encouraged to play a game."

Nipan recently obtained £10,000 funding from the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKISA) Pilot Projects Scheme which encourages innovation to develop and publicise examples of best practice in international student support.

He will use the money to develop a new version of the game and carry out further research into how effective it is in combating culture shock.

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