Prejudice and discrimination against immigrants have been a constant presence in Western Europe for a long time, fueled considerably by the refugee crisis in 2015. This project, supervised by researchers from Game Studies & Engineering and Psychology, explores the possibilities of using virtual reality (VR)-based video games to increase empathy and positive attitudes toward the integration of refugees in our society. Virtual-reality games have enormous potential for immersing players emotionally in situations outside their usual experience and in the perspectives of others. The project involves the development and evaluation of a game in which participants go through typical experiences of refugees in a European country and an experimental study that assesses the effects of playing the game on empathy, perspective-taking, and implicit and explicit attitudes toward refugees. We believe that this approach has the potential to open up a new, attractive route for changing people’s attitudes through immersive virtual experiences.
The project was proposed by Judith Glück from the psychology department and Felix Schniz and Mathias Lux from ITEC and accepted for funding within the Ada Lovelace program of the University of Klagenfurt. The project will start in Q3 or Q4 2023 and has a duration of 4 years.