Co-Op World: Adaptive computer game for supporting child psychotherapy

Sarit Alkalay, Avivit Dolev, Chen Rozenshtein, David Sarne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This paper introduces the Co-Op World computer game for supporting child psychotherapy. The game involves a virtual AI-based player and a human player, thus facilitating repeated interactions for requesting help from one another. The therapist, who is not part of the interaction, can then focus on reciprocity aspects emerging from playing the game, either in real-time by discussing different considerations for providing or refusing to help, or offline through a set of supporting tools (e.g., reports). One critically innovative aspect of the system is that, unlike with traditional computer games or traditional therapy, our game offers the therapist a-priori control over the behavior of the virtual player, facilitating various kinds of targeted reciprocity-related interactions between the patient and the virtual player. This capability of offering appropriate social communication challenges via the game has various advantages, as discussed throughout the paper. As a proof of concept, the game was tested in psychotherapy with four school-aged children. The case studies reveal high acceptance of the game among the users, as well as a varied set of behavioral strategies that the children adopted. The insights gained point to various directions for future development and research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100028
JournalComputers in Human Behavior Reports
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020


  • Children
  • Computer games
  • Psychotherapy
  • Reciprocity
  • Social skills


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