Virginia Attorney General and George Mason University Team Up to Fight Gang Recruitment with Games

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA) and George Mason University President Alan Merten announced the creation of a series of interactive and educational computer and mobile phone game applications that teach youngsters about the risks and consequences of joining gangs. The goal of these programs is easy enough: to slow down gang recruitment levels in the state.

During the spring semester, GMU students used their programming skills and tapped into the attorney general’s office information of gangs to create several games and apps.

“Gangs are constantly working to recruit new kids to replace those going to jail and getting killed. Their recruitment techniques are evolving, even to the point of using online gaming and other technologies. We have to work even harder to stop them,” said AG Cuccinelli. ”The goal of this partnership with GMU is a novel approach in the war against gangs to beat them at their own game. These mobile games serve as a cutting-edge educational tool to teach kids that if they join gangs, there are no winners: Ending up in the hospital, jail, or the morgue means game over.”

The majority of these titles are simple "choose your own adventure" games designed to target middle and high school students. They present a number of possible situations students might encounter in real life. The games will be available for mobile download free of charge sometime this summer from the attorney general’s web site, as well as the web sites for George Mason University, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and Virginia Rules.

Three games were demonstrated at a news conference today: "A Second Family," "Influenced," and "New Kid on the Block."

A Second Family was created by Michael Katz, Romel Ramos and Brandon Miller. The game tells the story of Justin, who is trying to fit in at a new school and becomes involved with some questionable people.

Influenced was created by Austin Fain, Tiffany Nguyen, Con Son and Lamesha Coley. In this game, the player chooses various scenarios in which he or she can either help or betray members of the community, influencing the impact gangs have on the community.

New Kid on the Block was created by Stephen Berrigan, Steven Fernandez, Devin Gibson, John Murphy, and Daniel Paquette. In this game, the player has just moved to a new town and is faced with fitting into a new school. He or she must make the right decisions to find a trustworthy group of friends.

“This is just the beginning for us, added AG Cuccinelli. "We hope to partner with George Mason University in the future to create games for bullying, internet safety, and other critical public safety issues involving young people.”

Source: Fairfax News

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