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Dr. Nigel Robb: Incoming Fellow

Project Title: Inclusive Gaming for Children with Intellectual Disabilities

Host Institution: University College Dublin

Host PI: Prof. Lizbeth Goodman

Home Institution: Queen's University, Belfast


A number of studies have found that typical children have more negative attitudes towards peers with intellectual disabilities (ID) than those without, which may lead to social exclusion of children with ID. However, it has also been shown that indirect contact between groups, including online contact and contact through cooperative multiplayer video games, can increase positive attitudes towards members of an outgroup. This effect is greater when the contact provides rich, contextualised experiences, such as those provided by video games, and when these experiences emphasise the identities and perspectives of both groups, with recent philosophical theories of the role of experience in cognitive development supporting this view. In addition, combining such contact with training in cognitive control – which is important for successful social functioning – may increase the effectiveness of the contact by simultaneously improving social skills, particularly in children with ID. This project will develop and evaluate an online environment, incorporating narrative-driven, multiplayer cognitive training games, designed to facilitate positive intergroup contact between typical children and children with mild, moderate and severe ID. A group of children (both typically developing children and children with ID) will be involved as design partners in the development of the software.

Dr Nigel Robb Bio Nigel Robb received his PhD in Philosophy from Queen’s University Belfast. He also holds an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Software Development. He has a broad range of professional experience, including experience in illustration, game design, software engineering, and interdisciplinary research. Most recently, he has led the design and development of a cognitive training game, tailored for children with Prader-Willi syndrome. His research interests include video games, including applied ('serious') games; human-centred design, particularly the design of software for people with intellectual disabilities; and philosophical theories of learning and concept acquisition.