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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Game combats campus culture shock
Nipan Maniar with university students
Freshers' week can be daunting for many students, Mr Maniar says
A computer game has been devised to help overseas students deal with the culture shocks of university life in Britain, like seeing kissing in public.

Players of C-Shock have to complete a series of tasks a foreign student might face on their first day at university.

They include seeing people drinking alcohol and smoking, in a 3D recreation of the University of Portsmouth campus.

One of its devisers, academic Nipan Maniar, said he hoped the game would help students know what to expect.

We thought we could devise a game that they could play on their mobile phone on the way here so they would know what to expect
Nipan Maniar

The senior lecturer in the university's faculty of creative and cultural industries, who is Indian, said he experienced a "massive culture shock" himself when he came to Portsmouth in 2000 to do his MSc.

"It was not just the environment I was in, but the teaching - the relationship with tutors was very informal."

And many students from places like South Asia were often shocked to see women smoking, drinking and being friendly with the opposite sex, he said.

This week, an Indian court issued an arrest warrant for Hollywood actor Richard Gere for kissing Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty in public.

Mr Maniar went on: "I deal with many Indian students in my capacity as an international co-ordinator.

"They often ask for a long list of all the things they should bring with them to Portsmouth.

"Then when they arrive they become very worried and they don't know what to do - they can be really dependent.

"So we thought we could devise a game that they could play on their mobile phones on the way here so they would know what to expect - so they don't get so much of a culture shock."

Still from game
Many overseas students are not used to seeing women drink

It could be a kind of e-mother or mobile mother, Mr Maniar added.

Fellow researcher Emily Bennett, who helped design the prototype of the game, says it has been well received by students.

She said a version could also be designed that would be useful for British students too.

"For the 18-year-old who is away from home for the first time, who is feeling disorientated and doesn't know where they are, it could help them as well."

If they could not find a building they needed to go to, instead of getting out a brochure or a map they could refer to the game instead, she said.

'Positive'

The game is the final stages of development but Mr Maniar is looking for a commercial sponsor to help produce it.

He also believes gaming could have a much greater role in university learning.

International students officer for the National Union of Students Issahaku Kotomah said: "International students can find it hard going, and some students do find elements of UK campus culture a bit of a shock.

"It is, ultimately, very positive that the needs of overseas students are being taken into consideration."

He said online games could be a powerful tool in helping international students acclimatise to life on a UK campus, as long as they are not solely about imposing a stereotype of campus life.


SEE ALSO
Gere faces Indian arrest warrant
27 Apr 07 |  Entertainment
Students sign mobile games deal
19 Apr 07 |  Lancashire
New students feel drink pressure
13 Oct 04 |  Cambridgeshire
Overseas students plans unveiled
18 Apr 06 |  Education

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