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Distr. Cognitive Syst.

Mediated Educ. Comm.

Info. & Comm. Systems

A research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
Nicolas Szilas (TECFA, University of Geneva) and Jean Dumas (UPCD, University of Geneva)

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of disability and has a devastating impact on all family members: adults who must care for the injured person, as well as children or adolescents whose parent or sibling has been injured. Although families in developed countries can turn to a variety of resources to help them cope (e.g., educational materials, individual or group counseling, support groups), most of those resources target injured persons or adult caregivers, rather than uninjured youths.
This research project proposes to design, develop, and evaluate web-based learning simulations that integrate educational materials for uninjured youths aged 12 to 19 years who have a parent or sibling with a TBI. The planned research will establish the scientific, pedagogical, and technological merit of creating these simulations and of presenting them on a web platform designed to help uninjured youths bolster their problem solving skills and their psychological adjustment. The research has four aims:
Computer-generated learning simulations: The Interactive Drama Engine

We use IDtension, a highly interactive drama engine, to develop an interactive game.

In this game young users play the role of Frank, who has to manage all-day-situations with Paul, his father, who suffers from a TBI. The scenarios are inspired by focus groups conducted with people who live with a family member suffering from TBI. he attractiveness of IDtension is its generative nature. Its architecture is much more flexible than that of narrative programs that depend on fully-scripted screenplays, and the stories it produces much more believable because they can evolve in multiple, at times unexpected ways. As IDtension generates scenes interactively, they cannot be described explicitly as in a story graph. This means that the term “scenario” does not refer here to a fully-scripted sequence of events (as in story graphs or movies), but to all the narrative materials available to the computer engine to dynamically produce the learning simulation.

Public demonstration

We made a public demonstration during the 100th anniversary celebration of the faculty of psychology of the university of Geneva, the 5th of may 2012. A few youths have been playing our game during this day and they showed both curiosity and interest.


Nicolas Habonneau, TECFA, Unige
Urs Richle, TECFA, Unige

This research project lasts from January 2010 to December 2012.