The Lost Summer is an educational video game in which players take on the role of various young people within a diverse community and complete Quests assigned to them by mentors they encounter along the way. Throughout the game, players are confronted with a variety of challenges, including conflicts on social media, cyber-attacks and fake news. Players need to use various skills and work to support their fellow characters to overcome these challenges and progress through the game.
In collaboration with the Department of Education and Training, the Office conducted research in 2016 to provide an evidence base for policies and programs designed to promote social cohesion and digital resilience amongst 12 to 17-year-olds. Research showed that it is highly likely that young people will often be exposed to negative online content such as cyberbullying and racism. This reinforced the need for early intervention in building digital resilience and an understanding of respectful relationships.
The Lost Summer provides a learning environment that enables learners to rehearse real-life scenarios and challenges safely. Students are encouraged to experiment with choices and learn from other characters within the game. In each Chapter the gameplay allows the learner to progress through more complex scenarios and apply the knowledge and skills they are building.
Digital Intelligence means having the necessary knowledge, skills and ability to understand and adapt one’s emotional and behavioural responses in overcoming the challenges of the digital era.
For young people, this is directly linked to how they use technology and includes the social, emotional, and cognitive abilities essential to digital life. The Lost Summer focuses on key aspects of Digital Intelligence including:
RESPECT - acting respectfully towards others, acknowledging and appreciating that others may have different cultures, backgrounds and/or points of view.
CRITICAL THINKING - thinking critically about what you see online and asking questions to identify and analyse information that may seek to exploit or misinform.
RESILIENCE - being resilient and responding with strength and maturity when risks are encountered online.
RESPONSIBILITY - being responsible about what you say and do by engaging positively with others and being accountable for your behaviour.
EMPATHY - being empathetic to others and using emotional intelligence to respect opinions, embrace diversity of opinion and freedom of speech.
The Lost Summer is set in South Coast City, a futuristic, fictional Australian city where a diversity of characters and cultures coexist. South Coast City has become home to people from all over Australia who have relocated after “the event”— something mysterious occurred in the recent past that nobody wants to talk about. If pressed, all anyone will say about “the event” is that it was the result of human selfishness going too far and now everyone is just going to have to live with it.
The people of South Coast City do not always get along, however they all have one thing in common: a love of drone racing. The annual Drone Racing Championships are the highlight of the city’s social calendar and it brings out the best and the worst in everyone.
Throughout the game, players explore South Coast City from the perspective of five different characters across five Chapters.
Each Chapter explores a different element of Digital Intelligence, where the main character helps the student explore social and emotional skills from a different perspective.
In the lead up to the much-anticipated Drone Racing Championships, excitement spills over into tension as negative social media posts and strange happenings set the community on edge and cause arguments. Playing as Tomasz, an enthusiastic young drone racer, you will need to navigate social media, use technology and demonstrate respect to solve problems and help others see they are valued despite their differences.
Tensions continue to rise between the factions as the Drone Racing Championships approach. Playing as Suley, a newcomer to South Coast City, you will need to work hard and keep a cool head to counter the online harassment targeting Sunwalkers. Will the community continue to be divided by their differences, or can you show resilience and use social media to spread positive vibes?
Amid the excitement of drone racing action, a controversial video goes viral and causes friendships to be tested. Playing as social butterfly Koleen, you will need to ask yourself and your friends some hard questions to help understand how simple acts can have devastating consequences. Be mindful of your emotions and show empathy for those around you as you try to help a friend avert a crisis unfolding on social media.