IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


TARDIS (Training young Adult's Regulation of emotions and Development of social Interaction Skills)

Using video game technology to improve personal confidence and employability


19 January 2020

By Jason Ilagan.

What do researchers at the UCL Knowledge Lab (UKL) have in common with Doctor Who? They have each developed a piece of technology called the TARDIS; but that's where the similarities end.

Whilst the Doctor uses his TARDIS to transport through time and space, the UKL use their TARDIS (Training young Adult's Regulation of emotions and Development of social Interaction Skills) to help young people at risk of exclusion. By integrating real job interview scenarios into gameplay with virtual recruiters, users are able to practice, explore and improve their social skills.

How gamification can beat unemployment

As the number of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) increases across Europe, current research reveals that NEETs often lack self-confidence and the essential social skills needed to seek and secure employment. In the case of many individuals, job interviews can be very intimidating and nerve-wracking.

Although social coaching programmes are available to those looking to improve their competencies, they can be expensive and time-consuming, putting trained practitioners at a stretch. Furthermore, those most in need may be hesitant to display any shortcomings that would typically be addressed by peers or practitioners.

Gamification allows for repetition to correct mistakes, attempts to remove barriers and stress that real-life situations can impose in order to build skills, confidence and familiarity. And the UKL has made this all possible using a device familiar with Xbox video game aficionados.

How TARDIS helps

Examples of gestures TARDIS can recognise.

  • Using the Microsoft Kinect interface, TARDIS puts users through a multitude of job interview situations and detects their emotions and social state through voice and facial expression recognition, and to adapt the progress of the game and the virtual recruiters' behaviour towards the user
  • Front-line practitioners have the ability to design appropriate interview scenarios and customise the behaviour of virtual recruiters
  • Detailed analytics are provided to practitioners measuring the progress of an individual in terms of their emotion regulation and social skill acquisition, allowing them to reflect on their own practice and provide more robust and personalised coaching.


The evaluation of the TARDIS tools demonstrated significant improvements in young-people's non-verbal behaviours such as posture, eye-contact and gesture management as well as increased depth and quality of responses to job interview questions.

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/sHqJuxheqFA