Game based learning & schools platform for Relationships Education.
Make connections. Explore relationships. Write your own story.
Relationship Goals is a game-based learning tool and web platform for schools that helps neurodiverse young people and those with learning disabilities (SEND) to understand and practise healthy relationships.
Digital development was funded by the Tech for Good fund, which is setup and run by Comic Relief and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to enable digital innovation in non-profit organisations working to improve people’s lives through technology.
Tech for Good technology partner
Tender, a charity working with young people to prevent domestic abuse and sexual violence, asked Milo to be their Tech for Good technology partner to help them on the user experience design and development of a gaming-based digital tool that would strengthen the support that they are able to provide for young people with mild to moderate special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
The accompanying web platform transforms the digital services that Tender can offer to schools and helps schools deliver Relationships Education to vulnerable groups of young people. The platform enables workshops to be set up and tailored to a learners' individual needs with the ability for teachers to track students' progress, gaining insight into learning outcomes that they have achieved.
To create a gaming-based digital tool to enable young people with special educational needs (SEND) to engage with sensitive topics from a safe distance, develop empathy and to “rehearse” for real-life scenarios, exploring their rights, expectations and choices in relationships in a fun and age-appropriate way.
To create a digital service for schools to support the delivery of Relationships Education and enable teachers to tailor the gaming-based digital tool to a learners' individual needs, track their progress against learning outcomes and generate student reports.
Our UX team co-designed every aspect of the gaming-based digital tool (including its characters, gameplay and narrative) in partnership with 15 neurodiverseyoung people, their schools and caregivers.
When we asked, young people told us emphatically that they wanted a fun and engaging role playing game to help them navigate the complexities of relationships and to help build their confidence.
Narrative game progression, themes and levels
Our UX design team worked with talented scriptwriters to develop the characters and create a narrative driven game that enables the players to “rehearse” for real-life scenarios. The script was written in such a way that the game can be configured for primary and secondary schools, the themes and language adapting to ensure that the levels are age appropriate.
Level design and topic progression
The game has five levels and three mini-levels, each of which explores a different topic about relationships. These topics increase in their complexity and maturity as the game progresses, covering topics such as empathy, personal space, online safety, peer pressure and consent.
Fresh Start: The player has arrived at a new school and wants to get to know their classmates. But, with so many different personalities in one place, can everyone get on and respect each other?
The Photo: Embarrassing photos of someone known to the player are being sent around the school against their will. Their friend confides in them that they are also being pressured to send a photo by someone in your class. Can the player help them work out what to do?
Cupcakes: It’s the school bake sale and the player is starting to get to know their classmates really well. Some of their friends want to play a prank on another friend in their group: what should they do?
Red Flags: As friendships get closer, navigating everyone’s feelings can get tricky and people can feel left out or get jealous. How does the player deal with this? Also, two of their classmates are now in a relationship! But something doesn’t seem quite right... Can the player work out if their relationship is healthy and support their friends?
Moving On: Every relationship goes through difficulties and resolving conflict is hard. Two of the players friends are a couple, but one of them wants to end the relationship. Can the player support them to do this in a healthy way and feel positive and confident about their next steps?
Relationship health and romance scores
The player's choices determine the health of the relationship and romance score that they have with each character. Choices are linked to one of the learning outcomes for each level. This means that adults supporting young people with Relationships Education can see what topics they are picking up particularly fast, or find challenging and may need additional support with.
Dating other characters
Whether a character will go on a date is dependent on how healthy the Relationship and Romance score is with the player. The Relationship and Romance scores are balanced to reflect the outcome of the choices that the player has made during the game. The dating mini levels focus on building young people's understanding of romantic or intimate relationships and include:
Asking someone out on a date
Going on a date
Breaking up with someone
Students can create their own character using a highly customisable Avatar Builder that enables them to choose from a wide range of facial features, skin tones, hairstyles and outfits. The avatar is displayed next to the choices that the player is making.
Onboarding and in-game support
Throughout the game players are supported by Shay and Mr Hill, friendly and supportive grown-ups who explain how to play the game and highlight important concepts in Relationships Education, such as consent. Shay checks-in with players to ensure that they are comfortable when taking next steps with other characters in the game, such as dating or ending relationships.
The player can read background information about each character to find out more about their personality, values, likes and dislikes and help them make informed choices whilst playing the game.
At the end of each level the player participates in a tournament round where their knowledge and understanding of the learning outcomes are consolidated through a series of fun interactive activities.
The game characters were all voiced by professional actors, which not only brings the game to life for players, but also helps students with visual impairments or low levels of literacy to play the game. The game pauses as each dialogue or action is presented. This gives the opportunity for players to move at their own pace and take as much time as required to comprehend, re-read or re-listen to dialogue before making choices. A settings panel enables players to configure the game to meet their individual needs and they can decide whether to include SFX or Voice Over audio.
Customisable online game engine
The digital tool is supported by a highly customisable online game engine that enables non-technical teams to script, set up and publish new game levels without assistance from the development team. The game engine was built using Strapi, an open-source headless content management system (CMS) and includes:
Scenes: Setting up scenes by adding backgrounds, configuring character emotions, positioning UI and characters in the scene
Dialogue: Adding dialogue script and linking sequences together
Player choices: Adding player choices, linking choices to game outcomes and balancing the scores for Relationship and Romance health
Tournaments: Creating interactive activities from a library of interaction types and linking them to learning outcomes
Dating: Creating the conditions for dating each character
Onboarding: Creating help files and in-game onboarding sequences for explaining key features
Profiles: Creating profiles for each of the in-game characters
Media management: Uploading voice over audio files and linking them to dialogue and player choices
Digital platform for schools
The digital tool, workshops and students reports are all managed via an easy to use digital platform that is designed specifically for teachers. Teachers can set up workshop groups and create game accounts for students, they can configure the chapters available within the game and decide whether students can progress at their own pace or with support from those leading the workshops. The language used in the game can be tailored to meet the needs of different age groups. The schools platform includes:
School and user account management
Training resources for teachers
Reports for students, workshops and schools
Digital innovation in Relationships Education
Tender are harnessing the power of digital innovation to prevent domestic abuse and sexual violence amongst vulnerable groups of young people that have often been systemically excluded or uncatered for within traditional Relationships Education.
Through a gaming-based digital tool Relationship Goals aims to create a lasting, positive impact on how neurodiverse young people approach real-life social interactions: empowering them to have healthy, equal relationships that enrich their lives. By educating young people to recognise the early warning signs of unhealthy relationships, we prevent them from becoming victims or perpetrators and empower them to have healthy relationships based on equality and respect.
The Relationship Goals platform expands the scope of the digital services that Tender can offer to schools, supporting the growth of their educational programmes and increasing the number of young people that can access and participate in it. Schools can tailor the game-based digital tools to meet the needs of their students, track their progress and support the delivery of Relationships Education.
Tender is currently piloting the game and digital platform in schools with the aim to scale the service nationally during 2022-23. During this time Milo will be supporting Tender as their Tech for Good technology partner, improving the digital tools and platform and responding to feedback from young people and schools.
The game is available to play online in the browser and on iOS and Android devices. To find out how to access the service please visit the Relationship Goals website or contact Tender.
App design & development services
Game, mobile & web application development
Relationship Goals required a multidisciplinary team to work across user experience design, game design, web application design, content production, character design & illustration, web application development and Unity game development.
Game & user experience design
Game design document (GDD)
Character design & illustration
User interface design
Voice over recording & SFX
Game & web application development
Game engine development
Unity game development (web, iOS & Android)
Web application development
Headless CMS (Strapi)
Heroku cloud application platform
Multi device testing
Support & maintenance
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