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A game design program that cares

on Friday,September 25,2009 21:09

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Can video games help teenagers avoid HIV infection by steering them clear of sex, drugs and alcohol use?

That’s the idea behind a $3.9 million grant to the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development who hope to design a video game that will teach an array of at-risk teens to make healthier decisions.

The game, called "Retro-Warriors," sets players in a virtual reality interface where they use role-playing to learn to avoid dangerous behaviors. The development team includes commercial game designers, Artificial Intelligence programmers, youth counselors, social theorists and a study group of gamers between the ages of 11 and 14.

Researchers plan to study the ethnically diverse group of players'' reactions to "Retro Warriors" as compared to more commercial games.

"If we are successful, the results of this research will produce video game technology that can improve individual and public health and decrease HIV transmission," says Lynn Fiellin, an assistant professor of medicine at Yale school of Medicine.

With Until.org estimating 1 million AIDS patients in the U.S., half of which are 25 years-old or younger, video games look to be the newest tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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