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Game Playing With Juvenile Delinquents

NCJ Number
Simulation and Games Volume: 9 Issue: 4 Dated: (December 1978) Pages: 461-475
M Johnson; T M Nelson
Date Published
15 pages
An experimental study used a sample of 14 male juvenile delinquents to assess the effectiveness of the free-form role-playing simulation games of rapport--Roles, Justifications, and Penalties--as counseling aids.
The games examined in this study are each aimed at different behavior problems, but share certain similarities: each draws clients into the counseling process, acquaints clients with positive social actions and attitudes, and provides a rational atmosphere for discussing controversial issues. Finally, all games enliven the conventional counseling situation. The games were tested initially by counselors, volunteers, and students to determine flaws and general reactions. The sample consisted of 14 boys between 12 and 15 who were first-time offenders on probation. Subjects were randomly assigned to experimental and control groups and met with counselors for five sessions. In the first and last sessions, the subjects were administered the Adjective Checklist, the Unwillingness to Communicate Scale, and the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension for Seventh Graders, while the counselors completed a Client Evaluation Form. During the second, third, and fourth sessions, the control group had regular meetings with their counselors, while the experimental group played Roles, Justification, and Penalties in that specific order. Analysis of data from the measuring instruments indicated that willingness to communicate had increased among the game-playing subjects and worsened in the control group. All the counselors were enthusiastic about using the games after the experiment. The games improve clients' communications skills and provide relevant topics for discussion. Other research should focus on the long-term effects of games and the inclusion of persons other than client and counselor. One note and approximately 22 references are included.


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