ECHOES: An intelligent serious game for fostering social communication in children with autism. Information Sciences 264, 41-60.
The article that I selected was ‘ECHOES: An intelligent serious game for fostering social communication in children with autism’ by Sara Bernardini, Kaska Porayska-Pomsta and Tim Smith, Information Sciences journal. The stated purpose of the article is to present the design and implementation of ECHOES, an interactive video game built to help young children with autism practice and develop social communication skills. The serious game system, ECHOES, was deployed to five special schools with educators committed to working with children with autism across the United Kingdom. The design of the game includes an intelligent virtual character on a 42 inch multi-touch LCD display with eye-gaze tracking. The child with autism is able to interact with the three-dimensional agent, who acts as both peer and tutor, for several learning activities intended for use in school and at home. The interactive learning activities take place in a two-dimensional sensory “garden”. The design of the autonomous virtual agent is based on participatory design workshops with practitioners and children along with the SCERTS framework. According to the article, the SCERTS framework is a well-established educational intervention approach aimed to support the social communication (SC) and emotional regulation (ER) of children with autism through appropriately designed transactional support (TS). The article went into great detail on the design of the artificial agent including the artificial intelligence capabilities of the software that enable the agent to work autonomously with the subject and modify its behavior, actions and communications based on the feedback, or lack thereof, from the subject. The article also provides details of the experimental design, execution and results to determine the effectiveness of the program in improving the social communication skills of children with ASD who used the program. The article revealed that the experiment produced inconclusive statistical results across the full sample of children who participated in the study – (“no significant transfer of increased social responsiveness or initiations to real-world contexts were observed across all children.”) However, there was evidence that some of the children benefited from their use of the program, especially in areas of increase and improvement in initiation of social interaction, as noted by teachers who served as proctors of the study. In this review, I will discuss how this article expanded my knowledge, supported and/or refuted my current views, and address how I would use this information to collaborate in the implementation of a serious virtual game for fostering social communication in children with autism.
Over the past decade, the development and use of digital games have become quite popular to the...