The project that serves as the foundation for the Play2Prevent™ initiative is a project funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The project’s goal is to develop and evaluate an interactive video game designed to provide at-risk young teens the opportunity to acquire and practice skills in order to avoid or reduce their risk behaviors. This video game will be built incorporating evidence-based tools for behavior change including message framing delay discounting, social learning theory and self-efficacy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day another 3,300 young people globally are newly infected with HIV with an estimated 1.2 million new cases occurring among 15 to 24 year olds each year. This figure represents an alarming 45% of all new infections. Similarly, in the U.S. in 2006, 34% of all new infections, the highest incidence rate in any age group, was among youth ages 13-29 years.
PlayForward: Elm City Stories completed production in early December 2012 and began a randomized clinical trial in February 2013. PlayForward is an interactive world in which the player, using an Avatar (virtual character) they have created, "travels" 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. Through a series of game play sessions, there will be many points at which we can track to see if the player is making the right choices - through video game play we can evaluate in real-time how our players are acquiring skills to help them make better choices.