Yale researchers are developing a video game for the iPad aimed at preventing HIV infection among ethnic minority adolescents. Their study appears in Games for Health, titled A Qualitative Study to Inform the Development of a Videogame for Adolescent Human Immunodeﬁciency Virus Prevention.
The video game, which is called Playforward: Elm City Stories, is being developed, in collaboration with Digitalmill and Schell Games, as an interactive world in which the players, using an avatar (virtual character) they have created, “travel” through life, facing challenges and making decisions that bring different risks and benefits. The player will have the ability to see how their choices affect their lives and subsequently will be able to move back in time to see how different actions might lead to different outcomes. By negotiating challenges in a highly repetitive and meaningful way, the player learns skills that translate to real life, equipping the player to avoid situations that increase their risk for HIV, says lead author Kimberly Hieftje, associate research scientist and a member of the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS at Yale.
The Yale team interviewed three dozen adolescent boys and girls in New Haven, Connecticut (known as the Elm City), to determine the factors that drive their behaviors, specifically risk behaviors. The researchers are using these first-hand reports to design the video game intervention that will be tailored and relevant to this specific at-risk population.
Population of focus: Minority youth in Connecticut.
Reference: Hieftje, K. et. al. A Qualitative Study to Inform the Development of a Videogame for Adolescent Human Immunodeficiency Virus Prevention. Games for Health Journal. August 2012, 1(4): 294-298.