Story at a glance:
- PlaySmart is a video game alternative to drug treatment and prevention.
- PlaySmart collects the player’s data, which will be evaluated by Fiellin and her colleagues over a two-year period.
- Players can “go back in time,” and make better choices.
PlaySmart is a new video game alternative to drug treatment and prevention. The developers hope it can prevent drug abuse in teenagers and give them the tools to remain drug free throughout their lives, working tangentially with traditional forms of intervention to teach kids about making the right choices.
The prevention strategy game is a “cartoon-character-driven, choose-your-own-adventure interactive point and click” aimed at teens and young adults, The Washington Post reported.
The players are put in various situations, such as a party, where they have to make certain decisions, and they’re taken through the consequences of those decisions, according to The Washington Post. Players are then allowed to go back and make a better or different choice.
“We know that early intervention is key. Therefore, we incorporated storylines and skill-building activities to improve mental health awareness and coping strategies, to normalize help-seeking behaviors, and to increase mental health service utilization,” Claudia-Santi F. Fernandes, deputy director of mental health & well-being, and a licensed professional counselor in private practice, said in a release.
The first version of the game was completed in March, and the pilot study was concluded in May, according to the release.
“Kids have [a] very inaccurate perception of risk of harm for opioids … and then there are the kids who do know it’s dangerous, but just don’t know how to say no. There is a science of negotiation — science around how to say no and still preserve your position in your peer group,” developer Lynn Fiellin told The Washington Post.
PlaySmart collects the player’s data, which Fiellin and her colleagues will evaluate over a two-year period. The team will assess the self-reported data from participants and their millions of files they saved while playing the game.
In September, the team will study gameplay from 532 gamers between 16 and 19 years old; some will play the actual game while others will play a different product in a controlled environment.
PlaySmart is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and developed by Yale University’s play2PREVENT Lab, The Washington Post reported.
“It’s the ability to use something that’s fun and engaging, and that people really like, to deliver serious health information and skills building,” Fiellin said.
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