This project aimed to develop a training module for modern website browsers and mobile devices that uses a familiar video game aesthetic to guide the user through support worker scenarios in a client’s home and other many locations.
Enabler Interactive is a social enterprise startup seeking to innovate in the disability support training space through the use of 3D training simulations distributed on mobile devices.
The delivery of quality disability support worker training is subject to many constraints in Australia. Enabler was founded to address specific concerns around value-for-money and the quality of legacy training content and processes. In the age of smart phones, has support training moved with the times? Are in-person and desktop computer-based training sessions the only options? Enabler CEO and former ACT Young Australian of the Year, Huy Nguyen believes the answer is no on both counts and that the sector is missing a trick. He has put together a team to create and distribute training material powered by video game technology and guided by the insights into the process that only come from being a person with a disability himself. Enabler aims to empower people with disabilities to have a more meaningful partnership with their support worker and also to close the gap in remote communities, where the lack of accessible and effective training translates to a lack of quality care.
Enabler’s idea was to create more engaging and personalised training scenarios by moving beyond slide decks and blackboards into serious games - interactive training products that have the engagement and production attributes of quality digital games but designed for non-entertainment purposes. Enabler harnessed IWF support to further develop their Minimum Viable Product - a training module for modern website browsers and mobile devices - that uses a familiar video game aesthetic (similar to that seen in The Sims) to guide the user through support worker scenarios in a client’s home and other many locations.
Enabler rolled out a suite of relevant training scenarios as modules to give both support workers and their clients, the actual people with a disability, the capability to direct training parameters by filling in online personal profiles. By re-framing NDIS client participation in the support worker training process, from customer to enabler (of quality training), the company aims for their product to act as a catalyst for day-to-day improvements in disability support care.
Enabler seized the opportunity to develop personalised 3D simulation training for disability support workers to take full advantage of widely available and cost-effective video game technology and mature game development processes.
The idea was that NDIS participants share deep insights into the effectiveness of the training designed to benefit them. By designing training products that take this viewpoint into account, Enabler looked to help support care providers focus on appropriate content and service delivery for NDIS participants.
The effectiveness of Enabler’s approach was measured in terms of their product’s reach. If the Enabler proposition is taken up in full, higher rates of engagement with training is expected. This will be recorded through web analytics and higher rates of satisfaction from NDIS participants.
Enabler’s initial scenario has been sold to two service providers and is at the pilot stage with at least three organisations giving several thousand support workers visibility of the product for early feedback. Based at The Arcade in Melbourne, Australia’s first game development co-working space, Enabler is benefitting from close proximity to other Australia 3D simulation startups and other serious games outfits.
As newcomers to the serious games and simulation industry, Enabler have had to deal with the complexities of working with video game technology for the first time. While barriers to entry continue to fall, the complexities of building serious game products (e.g. quality assurance, detailed design specifications, and human resourcing) have been challenging. Ambitious targets for the Enabler launch platform have had to be revised in line with early feedback and the constraints of being a digital startup.
In early testing of Enabler’s first training scenario, the team developed a deeper insight into the art and craft of interactive experience design as exemplified by the best interactive entertainment titles. As the IWF phase has progressed, the need for more quality writing in the scenarios led to the engagement of an award-winning games writer.
The global market for designing and building serious games is growing exponentially but this is not reflected in the local market. In response to a recent parliamentary inquiry into the state of the Australian video game industry, the Federal Government acknowledged the value of supporting the local serious games sector but declined any direct support. This makes it very hard for vendors like Enabler to deliver products at prices affordable for the sector while still being sustainable to produce. Development of interactive titles is expensive and while Enabler has successfully navigated the first round of its startup journey, it has a long road ahead to sustainability regardless of the merits of its proposition.