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University of Westminster academics collaborate in developing cutting-edge games for Criminal Law students

Computer Science and Software Engineering; Law 5 September 2016

Screenshot from the virtual reality game developed for Criminal Law students

In the new academic year, University of Westminster academics from the Department of Computer Science and Westminster Law School (WLS) hope to pilot, with the help of WLS students, a high-tech and innovative computer game using virtual reality that they have been developing in partnership.

This interdisciplinary project, which won the Best Paper Award at the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN2016) conference, is the result of a highly ground-breaking collaboration between the two departments. The project titled ‘REVRLaw: An Immersive Way for Teaching Criminal Law using Virtual Reality’ will test the effectiveness of the game in assisting WLS students with the Law of Murder on the Bachelor of Law (LLB) and the Integrated Master’s in Law (MLaw) Criminal Law module.

REal and Virtual Reality Law (REVRLaw) is the proposed framework in which Law students will be able to explore a real case scenario using Virtual Reality technology. They will discover important pieces of evidence from a real scenario and make up their mind over the crime case if it is a murder or not. The game-based platform integrates the immersion into Virtual Reality as the perception of being physically present in a non-physical world.

According to the award-winning paper, serious games can be very effective as an instructional tool, and can promote student motivation and interest in the subject matter resulting in enhanced learning effectiveness.

The Westminster scientists involved are Senior Lecturer Markos Mentzelopoulos, Senior Lecturer Dr Daphne Economou and Games Development student James Parrish from the University’s Department of Computer Science, and Senior Lecturer Dr Paresh Kathrani from Westminster Law School.

The pre-release testing of the game will be tested with the help of the University’s Computer Games Development and Law students, making the project an interdisciplinary collaboration between Westminster students and academics. The students will identify and address any development and mechanical issues, as well as any imperfections related to user-experience.

Markos Mentzelopoulos said: “We hope that this new proposed platform will bring a new immersive learning experience to the Law students and provide them a completely different perspective from understanding law entitlements. This project will not be used as a substitute of the original lecture materials but as a supplementary material to provide a different angle to the potential crime investigator.”

Dr Paresh Kathrani added: “This platform provides a state-of-the-art opportunity for Criminal Law students to expand upon the valuable skills that they learn on a Law degree. It immerses them in a realistic crime scene and requires them to use those skills. I look forward to working with the Department of Computer Science on other projects.”

Learn more about the Department of Computer Science and Westminster Law School.

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