Image from Stop Bullying Now

Camp Stopabully

by Melissa Hughes &
Karen McKelvey


Think back to your childhood and you can no doubt recall a time when you were bullied. In the 21st century you'd think bullying would have died out with floppy disks and Commodore 64 computers. Well it didn't. In fact bullying continues to be a common problem among children and has even taken to the Internet in the form of cyberbullying.

Bullying is defined as intentionally aggressive behavior against a child. It happens when a child is hurt or scared by another child and usually involves one child or a group of children in a position of power over another child. The child who is bullied may not be able to defend himself and may find himself being bullied over and over. Sometimes it is easy to notice bullying, such as hitting, name-calling or negative body language. However, bullying can also take the form of passive aggressive behaviors, such as excluding someone or gossiping. Both boys and girls bully.

It's not surprising to hear that most children report being bullied at school. After all, during the school year that's where children spend most of their time. In fact, according to research conducted by Jane Gallagher, one out of four children is bullied, and one out of five defines themselves as a bully (Lumsden, 2002). But what about outside school? Children also report being bullied in social situations that occur outside of school--perhaps at soccer practice, the park, a birthday party, or camp. According to a resource, Bullying in Out-of-School Time Programs: Tips for Youth Serving-Professionals and Volunteers, although there isn't much research about bullying outside school, a recent national study on bullying involving sixth through tenth graders in the U.S. found that
  • Nine percent of boys and five percent of girls reported that they were bullied away from school "sometimes" or "weekly" compared to sixteen percent of boys and eleven percent of girls reported being bullied at school
  • Children who bully and who are bullied are more likely than other children to be involved in fighting and carry a weapon. Seventy percent of boys and 30-40 percent of girls who were involved in bullying outside of school on a weekly basis

According to research, bullying prevention ought to begin in kindergarten. The most successful programs have no definitive end date and continue on through twelfth grade. In general, adults may feel unsure or hesitant to address bullying when they see or hear of it. Teachers also are typically trained to deal with conflict resolution rather than bullying, which requires a much different approach. Witho
Camp Stopabully makes use of resources on an existing website, Stop Bullying Now!
ut addressing bullying proactively, a child's physical, emotional and academic well-being may be in jeopardy. Bullying creates a negative school climate. It interferes with academic learning and takes time away from teachers and administrators.

Camp Stopabully is a new e-Game that is just one component in a bullying prevention program. This e-Game is a simulation of a week long summer camp experience. It provides children a safe place to role play how he or she would react in a bullying experience outside a school setting. It makes use of resources provided by Stop Bullying Now!, a government funded initiative and website with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This is a campaign website created especially for kids and adults. It contains resources about bullying awareness, prevention and intervention, including webisodes in which cartoon characters deal with bullying.

Instructional Objective

This e-game has the following instructional objectives:
  1. Support bullying prevention in schools and communities by providing a safe place for children to explore bullying and the consequences of bullying.
  2. A player will be able to apply his or her knowledge of how to prevent and/or deal with bullying by choosing the most appropriate solution to various multimedia scenarios.
  3. A player will be able to apply his or her knowledge of how to prevent and/or deal with bullying by choosing the most appropriate solution in their own life.
  4. Raise awareness and sensitivity to bullying in order to reduce existing bullying problems among students and promote better peer relations.

This e-Game addresses the following standards within the school curriculum:

National Physical Education - Health Standards

Grades K-4, Standard 4.5

  • Distinguish between verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Describe characteristics needed to be a responsible friend and family member.
  • Demonstrate healthy ways to express needs, wants, and feelings.
  • Demonstrate ways to communicate care, consideration, and respect of self and others.
  • Demonstrate attentive listening skills to build and maintain healthy relationships.
  • Demonstrate refusal skills to enhance health.
  • Differentiate between negative and positive behaviors used in conflict situations.
  • Demonstrate non-violent strategies to resolve conflicts.

Grades 5-8, Standard 4.5

  • Demonstrate effective verbal and non-verbal communication skills to enhance health.
  • Describe how the behavior of family and peers affects interpersonal communication.
  • Demonstrate healthy ways to express needs, wants and feelings.
  • Demonstrate ways to communicate care, consideration, and respect of self and others.
  • Demonstrate communication skills to build and maintain healthy relationships.
  • Demonstrate refusal and negotiation skills to enhance health.
  • Analyze the possible causes of conflict among; youth in schools and communities.
  • Demonstrate strategies to manage conflict in healthy ways.

California State Standards - Health
Grade Three
Growth and Development
Standard 4: Interpersonal Communication
  • 4.1.G Demonstrate how to communicate with parents, guardians, and trusted adults about growth and development.
  • 4.2.G Identify how to show respect for individual differences.
Standard 5: Decision Making
  • 5.1.G Examine why a variety of behaviors promote healthy growth and development.
Standard 7: Practicing Health-Enhancing Behaviors
  • 7.1.G Determine behaviors that promote healthy growth and development.
Standard 8: Health Promotion
  • 8.1.G Encourage peers to show respect for others regardless of differences in growth and development.
Mental, Emotional, and Social Health
Standard 1: Essential Concepts
  • 1.1.M Describe examples of healthy social behaviors (e.g., helping others, being respectful of others, cooperation, consideration).
  • 1.2.M Describe the importance of assuming responsibility within the family and community.
  • 1.3.M Explain the benefits of having positive relationships with family and friends.
  • 1.4.M Discuss the importance of setting (and ways to set) personal boundaries for privacy, safety, and expression of emotions.
Standard 3: Accessing Valid Information
  • 3.1.M Access trusted adults at home, at school, and in the community who can help with mental, emotional, and social health concerns.
Standard 4: Interpersonal Communication
  • 4.1.M Demonstrate how to communicate directly, respectfully, and assertively regarding personal boundaries.
Standard 5: Decision Making
  • 5.2.M Evaluate situations in which a trusted adult should be asked for help.
Standard 8: Health Promotion
  • 8.1.M Promote a positive and respectful school environment.
  • 8.2.M Object appropriately to teasing of peers and family members that is based on personal characteristics.
  • 8.3.M Demonstrate the ability to support and respect people with differences

Grade Four
Injury Prevention and Safety
Standard 1: Essential Concepts

  • 1.2.S Identify behaviors that may lead to conflict with others.
  • 1.3.S Describe the different types of bullying and harassment.
  • 1.4.S Examine the effects of bullying and harassment on others.
  • 1.7.S Describe ways to seek assistance if worried, abused, or threatened.
  • 1.18.S Explain how courtesy, compassion, and respect toward others reduce conflict and promote nonviolent behavior.
Standard 2: Analyzing Influences
  • 2.1.S Analyze how emotions contribute to both safe and violent behaviors.
  • 2.3.S Explain that most young people do not use violence to deal with problems.
Standard 3: Accessing Valid Information
  • 3.4.S Identify trusted adults to report to if people are in danger of hurting themselves or others.
Standard 4: Interpersonal Communication
  • 4.1.S Demonstrate the ability to use refusal skills in risky situations.
  • 4.2.S Practice effective conflict resolution techniques with others.
  • 4.3.S Report bullying, harassment, and other dangerous situations.
  • 4.5.S Demonstrate what to say and do when witnessing bullying.
Standard 5: Decision Making
  • 5.1.S Evaluate strategies to avoid potentially dangerous situations.
  • 5.2.S Examine the consequences of bullying and harassment.
  • 5.3.S Analyze the benefits of using nonviolent means to resolve conflicts.
Standard 7: Practicing Health-Enhancing Behaviors
  • 7.1.S Demonstrate strategies to avoid bullying and other types of harassment.
Standard 8: Health Promotion
  • 8.2.S Offer friendship and support to someone who was bullied.


This e-Game is designed for elementary school age children in grades 3-5 (ages 7-11). These students are in close proximity with each other every day. They play together, eat together, ride the bus together, and work on academics together. At one point or another a child has either been bullied or has been a bully. Some children may not even recognize when they are participating in bullying behavior.

Context of Use

This e-Game is primarily designed for use in the elementary classroom as a supplement to a school wide bullying prevention program but it can also be used in the students' homes. This game can be played multiple times.

Students will access the game through the Stop Bullying Now! web site where it is located on the Games tab. Ideally the classroom is equipped with one computer per pair of students so that students can play simultaneously, get more practice, and share experiences and knowledge as they work with a partner. Ideally students play in pairs so that they can discuss the scenarios and come to a consensus on the best decision. At the start of a game a player logs in and his actions and score are recorded as he plays in a log. A game can be saved so it can be continued at another time.

The teacher monitors student play and provides assistance if needed. The teacher can also refer to the log to see how students are doing in the game. At the end of the play period the teacher may lead the class in a discussion of the various scenarios and decisions the students chose for each one.


This e-Game simulates a week long summer camp experience. It provides children a safe place to experience and react to varying bullying situations outside a school setting. It also allows children to use knowledge gained from the many different resources on the Stop Bullying Now! website and from their school wide bullying prevention program.

There is no time limit, however, it is recommended that the classroom teacher set a limit. For example, limit the number of camp activities a player can do on each log-in or in the game management set-up, set a time limit for each log-in session.

When the player arrives at Camp Stopabully he picks an avatar to be his character for the game. He's introduced to the camp (game) by the camp counselor who goes over the week's activities. The counselor also introduces the player to three randomly selected cabin mates who they will spend the week with. Each cabin mate is a character from one of the Stop Bullying Now! website's webisodes (see example below.)
Cast member becomes cabin mates at camp.
The cabin mates appear in some of the camp scenarios. A player may end up having to help him or her out with a bullying problem or vice versa.

During his time at camp the player encounters a variety of bullying experiences during different camp activities, like canoeing, or around the campfire, and he is faced with difficult choices.

This is a branching story with five main areas: cabins, cafeteria, campfire, lake, and obstacle course. Each main area branches to three screens with scenarios that in turn either branch to another screen after a negative response or to the next main area. See the chart in the diagram below for an example:

Example of Main Branch

Throughout the game the player can reflect on what he is learning by writing in a "daily journal". The journaling will serve as a break in between scenarios in each area, and as an accountability component for the teacher to see the student's progress.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to make it through the camp with enough points to receive an award. Depending on how many points the player earns, he will receive one of many awards. There are different levels and kinds of awards such as a Peace Award for 100 points scored. At the end of the game a player's score is entered into a log so that he can bank points until his next attempt at the game.

During the game a player must complete five camp activities. A player scores points during each activity. To score the most points (20) in each activity a player must deal with the bullying experience in the most appropriate way (positive response). A player scores no points (0) for a poor choice (negative response). For example, if the player gives into the bully the first time, he earns less points and then has deal with the consequences of escalating threats in another scenario. A player earns an award for every 100 points earned, for example, 100 points earns a player "Peace Award" and 200 points earns a player a "Hero Award"
. Certificates automatically print out when a player reaches these break points.

Competing Products

Wellsphere.com - A health website providing a network of articles from medical professionals, bloggers, news, pictures, videos, and resource links. Partner sites include the CDC, HHS, and FDA.
Bullying Prevention - A registry pages from the Ontario Ministry of Education. The page includes descriptions of various bullying programs offered to teachers and schools, for a fee. Most of these are assemblies, plays, classroom-oriented curricula, and community-based initiatives, book,s and some computer-based programs.
Live Wire Media & Goodcharacter.com - Ecommerce sites devoted towards a character education DVD series with teacher guides.
It's My Life - An online game part of the “It’s My Life” website. It advertises: "You can read informative articles, share your stories, play games and activities, take quizzes and polls, watch video clips of other kids talking about their feelings and experiences, get advice from older kids and experts, and contribute your own comments and questions. It's My Life also features interviews with celebrities about stuff they had to go through when they were kids.”
SafeChild.org - Designed with adults in mind, it previews the “Take a Stand” program. Several short videos demonstrate how to recognize signs of bullying and how to approach the topic with children.
Any Book in Print.com- From the website: "Being teased is very painful to all children. To some, it can be emotionally devastating. This game is designed to teach children 10 ways to deal with being teased including: using confident body language, avoiding teasers when you are alone and learning what provokes teasing. A unique feature of the game is an audiotape of different children making teasing comments. Players must respond in appropriate ways to being teased in order to win enough points to go to the class party. For 2-6 players. Grades 1-7."
Nutrition Pathfinders, Camp Eatawella. According the Dairy Council that produces this product, "Nutrition Pathfinders is a 3rd, 4th, & 5th grade adventure at Camp Eatawella which incorporates a CD-ROM. The goal of the self-directed CD-ROM simulation and corresponding student workbook is to engage students while presenting them with nutrition content & activity recommendations that reflect current health guidelines. Experiencing these everyday activities in a virtual environment allows them to safely practice reasoning, problem solving, character building and critical thinking skills." This game is similar in that it is a branching simulated story set in a fictional camp.

Design Details

Visually Camp Stopabully is bright, colorful, and cartoonish. Animated cartoon characters are set is a summer camp in the wilderness. These characters speak and interact with other characters within the game.

The scenarios in the e-game include many different characters. These characters are drawn from the existing characters found on the Stop Bullying Now! website, in the games, resources, webisodes etc. The cast of approximately 25 personified animal characters mimic student stereotypes of a typical elementary school. For example, the "jock," the "brain," "Miss Popular", the "nerdy band member" and others.

Figure 1. The characters found in the e-game.
A detailed description of each characters can be viewed at http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/cast/default.aspx Here are a few examples of the character bios:

Figure 2. Stop Bullying Now! webisode characters

Branching Design & Sample Screen Shots

The design tree features the details for one camp activity. It includes three scenarios with outcomes, and additional scenarios that are presented to the player upon a "negative response" so that he can try again. The other camp activities feature the same tree design but different story lines.

CLICK ON DIAGRAM which links to a complete flowchart

The sample screen shot below shows what a player will see once he arrives at a camp activity, in this case the Obstacle Course. The player views the scenario as Flash movie in the window marked a "C". After viewing the scenario he selects one of two outcomes from the window marked with a "D". After viewing the scenario and selecting an outcome the game branches off in different directions depending on the players response. The tabs across the top of the window marked with and "A" shows a player which camp activity he is participating in.
Figure 3. Example of a bullying scenario, and given choices
A : Menu tabs - camp areas
B: Player points collected in game to date
C: Flash movie of camp scenario
D: Outcomes - player chooses one
E: Help button - provides bullying tips to assist the player. Help button works similar to "Tip" box in a Word document.

The following sample screen shot shows the journal page that appears at the end of each camp activity. A player enters comments in the window marked with a "B".

Figure 4. Daily journal feature which appears after a player completes each camp activity

A: Menu tabs - My Journal, Back to Camp Activities
B: Window for player to type
C: Help button - provides player with typing assistance
D: Directions & writing prompt

Description of Events
This branching style of e-game addressed three categories of bullying--name-calling, physical bullying, and exclusion--and forces the player to consider solutions in separate scenarios. A player may choose to begin at the lake, and must navigate through the first level--name-calling. The player's avatar will encounter a bullying problem, and then he is asked to choose an outcome (see Figure 3). If the player makes a positive, more appropriate decision of how to handle the bullying, then the player earns the maximum amount of points (20 points) and then advances to the next bullying category--physical bullying. If the player makes another positive decision, then he earns more points and continues to the third level--exclusion. However, if the player makes a negative choice at any time, for any level, he is given one more chance within that bullying category to earn points. The player may navigate to any camp activity area, but must finish his avatar's camp activities all within one area at one time. As illustrated in the flowchart, bullying categories are color-coded to follow the game's navigation path. (For more details refer to the key on the design tree.)

Once the player has left a camp activity area, such as the lake, he is directed to the Daily Journal page of the game (Figure 4). Here, he is given directions and a writing prompt regarding his game outcomes for that area. The player may save journal entries. This acts as an assessment piece both for the player and for a teacher or parent wanting to know what the player has learned from this experience.

Technical Elements
This e-game would require 2-D and Flash animation to create the cartoon style intended. The following software may be used to complete this:
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe® Flash® CS4 Professional software
Since the game supplements the already-developed characters of the Stop Bullying Now! website, no specific platform is needed because the game is entirely web-based. This game may be played on a Mac or PC depending if either has the Flash download. File formats for graphics may include GIFs for character stills, and embedded sound within Flash. Depending on server side, accommodations may be made to the website to include the various Flash animations for the different story branches. Also, memory space needs to be considered since players will want to save their game play online, and retain points over different periods of time. For the "Help" features of the e-game, a database will be needed to house a variety of screen tips sorted by keyword.

Motivational Issues

Camp Stopabully incorporates motivation in various ways. Malone and Lepper's Heuristics for Designing Intrinsically Motivating Instructional Environments offers a guide for designing motivating learning experiences. Malone and Lepper define classes of motivation--“individual” motivations that includes challenge, curiosity, fantasy, and control, and "intrapersonal" motivations that includes cooperation, competition, and recognition (1987). When examining this game, you can see that several of these classes are incorporated into its design.

Individual Motivation of Challenge
This e-game provides a continuously optimal learning level of difficulty for the learner, incorporating both short and long term goals, uncertain outcomes, and frequent and positive performance feedback. The scenarios vary in difficulty. Some are quite simple and the appropriate solution is likely quite obvious. Others are more difficult because the bullying content is subtle, and the appropriate solutions require a little more thinking.

This e-game hierarchical goal system that allows players to set both short-term and long-term goals. The player has to make it through three scenarios in each camp activity, and eventually complete five camp activities to end the game.

When a player selects an outcome after a scenario, he receives immediate feedback on whether it was the appropriate choice. If a player answers appropriately (positive response) he is rewarded with points and advances to the next camp activity. If he answers inappropriately (negative response) he can try again in a new scenario. If he fails to answer the second scenario appropriately he receives feedback about both scenarios, including tips on how to deal with this particular type of bullying, such as name calling. This information hopefully helps a player the next time he faces a similar type scenario, both in the game and in real life.

Individual Motivation of Curiosity
A learning experience should provide an optimal level of informational complexity or discrepancy from the learners’ current state of knowledge and information by including both sensory and cognitive curiosity (Malone and Lepper). This game stirs cognitive curiosity when a player encounters different camp scenarios. When a player is immersed in a scenario at camp, he may be curious about or surprised by an experience, and wonder how it’s going to turn out.

A player may begin this e-game with limited experience with bullying or he may have experienced it or is going through it right now. By experiencing different scenarios during in this e-game a player becomes more familiar with strategies for handling bullying.

Since this e-game is associated with an existing website, Stop Bullying Now, we hope that players become curious about and are motivated to use the resources on this website to further their knowledge about bullying.

The attractive, colorful, engaging cartoon environment with its varying audio and visual effects is designed to peek a player’s sensory curiosity too.

Individual Motivation of Control
People will find activities motivating if there is an element of control. Empowering learning environments are those in which options are rich, and dependent upon the response of the learner (Malone and Lepper).

The outcomes for each scenario are what Malone and Lepper refer to as contingency. The players have two outcomes that are dependent on their knowledge of how to handle bullying. A player can use other resources to help him as well as his partner to choose the appropriate outcome. They have a little more control over whether they can correctly answer a question than if they just had to remember strategies for handling bullying independently. Children who lack strong social skills or are intimidated easily may find a bullying role-play e-game a safe outlet to practice improving these skills.

Individual Motivation of Fantasy
This e-game has an element of fantasy that acts as a motivating factor too. A player imagines he is at camp. This appeals to the emotional needs of a player by giving him a fantasy world in which to try out the bullying strategies. As Malone and Lepper suggest there are cognitive aspects of this e-game that incorporate appropriate metaphors for the content too. At the root of each scenario is a context that young children can relate to.

Interpersonal Motivations: Cooperation and Competition
There is another kinds of intrinsic motivation called interpersonal that depends on other people (Malone and Lepper). This e-game encourages a player to play with a partner. Partners must work together to progress through the e-game. They must discuss and negotiate decisions as a team. This social aspect adds to the motivational level the game.

Design Process

Initially, our team had several choices for a game topic. These ranged from an academic related ideas to a social issues. Ultimately, our team chose to focus on the social issue of bullying for several reasons. Both of us are elementary school teachers. We have seen first-hand the kinds of bullying tactics students engage in among their peers, and how much of the problem affects all parties - bully, victim, teachers and parents alike. We have also had experience over years with various "character education" programs thrust upon us, and in our opinion none of which have tackled the bullying program very effectively. It was this realization that was the catalyst for creating an interactive, engaging e-game to address bullying. While our team knows that one game cannot completely eradicate bullying from schools or neighborhoods, it is an attempt to give bullying victims non-violent strategies to defend themselves, and make younger children aware of the severity of the problem.

Our team was inspired by several sources while developing this e-game. Content material was collected from other bullying websites, videos, podcasts, and articles. We first went through these materials analyze and understand more about the topic, and gain an understanding of what experts suggest to address in the classroom or at home. We then viewed several sites with different styles of e-games, not necessarily about bullying, just to have an idea of what might be the best format to fit our topic. From this we considered a simulation much like the Serious Games introduced in class. However, we felt that a 3-D graphic simulation would be too comprehensive and detailed to pull off. Also, for this age range of elementary children, we thought we would need something simpler and faster -2D Flash - that would not deter from actually playing the game. We also liked the cartoon-style of animation applied in several surveyed sites, and wanted to mimic that style for a younger audience. Our team settled for a branching story format with multiple choice answers, and a clear beginning, middle and end.

The main electronic reference used was the Stop Bullying Now! website, a consortium of online interactive animated webisodes, interactive games, links, and resources for both children and adults. The webisodes use a series of characters that a user can follow - much like a tv show - through different bullying scenarios. The user is expected to watch a short webisode and then there are separate discussion questions to use with a group. The only interactive online assessment of these webisodes is a quiz located in the game tab of the website. Other than these tools, there is no real simulation for a learner to experience making bullying choices and their potential consequences. That is where our e-game, Camp Stopabully, would fill the gap. Based upon our research, there is no other distinctive product presenting this content in the way which we've designed it for children.

The setting for the game originally was going to align itself with the webisodes of the Stop Bullying Now! site, and have the player interact in school. Feeling that this had already been done, we referred to the Nutrition Pathfinders, Camp Eatawella website, and liked the idea of using a summer camp as our unique simulation environment.

As far as the target audience, we first intended to have the game be for kindergarten through sixth grade. Then we had the epiphany that children in primary grades (K-2nd), may never have been to a camp! So we redesigned it for 3rd through 5th graders. We took sixth graders out because we felt the cartoony style and language may not appeal as much to their maturity level. We also recognized that some elementary schools do not include a sixth grade class, and that middle school teachers may have more appropriate programs to fit this age group.

We have solicited the suggestions from our peers and professors with this e-game. One comment made about the game was for us to make the goal clearly understood. Earlier drafts of the design document were not completely clear if the player was working towards points or some other kind of reward. We struggled with expectations of the flowchart, as well.

Our team would have to say that we have come away from this project with an appreciation for game design and all the layers the craft entails. There are certainly wonderful examples of e-games that work and examples of ones that don't. It is a challenge to make as many of the aspects of game design really "gel." Game designers make it look easy, especially when all one sees is a player enjoying it. We would hope if our e-game ever made it to fruition, it would be in that category.


Books & Journals
  • Farr, J., Malone, T., Lepper, M. (2001). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In R.E. Snow (ed.) Aptitude, Learning, and Instruction (pp. 223 – 253). Philadelphia: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.