DePaul University Newsline > Sections > Campus and Community > Buddy Abroad game helps students navigate travel and wellness
By Mary Hansen /
October 16, 2023 /
Posted in: CAMPUS AND COMMUNITY /
DePaul University will publish and sell the game to help study abroad students prepare for traveling and learning internationally, focusing on practical tips as well as maintaining health and wellness. DePaul's
Instructional Game and Innovation Lab developed the game with input from student workers, study abroad trip participants and the university's study abroad office.
“Playing Buddy Abroad was really helpful in a way that having a lecturer wouldn’t have been because it felt like you were actually getting practice,” Brown said.
The development of Buddy Abroad comes as U.S. colleges and universities are reporting an increase in participation in study abroad programs from pandemic lows, according to the
Institute of International Education. DePaul expects enrollment in study abroad programs to return to pre-pandemic levels with more than 1,000 students participating this year.
In addition to practical tips on packing, a goal of the game is for students to understand the importance of tracking their own wellness while abroad and checking in on their classmates. Jes Klass, who heads the DIGI Lab, is the game’s lead designer.
“Companionship and camaraderie are things that we know are most helpful for students in their journey through college in general, but especially when they’re going to be studying in a foreign country together,” said Klass, who teaches game design in the
Jarvis College of Computing and Digital Media. “Getting to know each other ahead of time is really, really important.”
In the game, each player has a suitcase and backpack where they need to pack seven required essentials, and as many optional items as they can. Each turn, players draw group and individual cards describing a scenario that impacts players’ wellness meter.
Staff from DePaul’s Study Abroad Office assisted in coming up with real-life scenarios, such as losing an ATM card or getting homesick, that students should be prepared for. The goal is for everyone to end the trip with a wellness meter above zero.
The general version of the game is appropriate for high-school age travelers, but the game also has an optional expansion pack of serious scenarios for college students. “This 18 and up expansion adds a discussion-focused element into the normal gameplay,” Klass said. Topics include discrimination, loss, conflict, and other serious events that students may need to navigate.
DePaul students, faculty and staff will have access to the game to prepare for trips starting this upcoming spring. Group study abroad programs face these type of challenges in developing group dynamics and handling unexpected situations while traveling, said Scott Ozaroski, associate director of program management in DePaul’s Study Abroad Office.
Members of the DePaul community can contact Klass or the
Study Abroad Office to access the game without charge. For those outside the university, the game is
now available for purchase online.
DePaul Media Relations: