Study: iPad Game Helps Boost Young Individuals’ HIV Knowledge

July 28, 2014 in News

Teenagers who played an iPad-based “serious” video game learned significantly more about HIV/AIDS compared with those who played conventional video games, according to a new study presented at the International AIDS Conference, MedPageToday reports.

Study Details

For the study, participants ages 11 to 14 played the video game, called “PlayForward: Elm City Stories,” for one hour twice a week for six weeks, for a total of 12, one-hour sessions.

During the presentation, Lynn Fiellin of Yale University said that the game:

  • Is based on social behavior theories;
  • Has an overarching storyline and reoccurring characters; and
  • Includes four mini-games, each containing 10 levels, and 12 story-based challenges.

Meanwhile, a control group played conventional video games such as “Angry Birds.”

The iPads were equipped with software to create and collect records of player activity, which measured exposure to specific HIV/AIDS intervention components.

The researchers also collected standardized data over a two-year period, including at:

  • Day one;
  • Six weeks;
  • Three months;
  • One year; and
  • Two years.

The data were assessed using 22 items based on the AIDS Risk Knowledge Test, which is used to determine improvements in understanding about the disease.

Study Findings

According to Fiellin, participants enjoyed playing the game. When asked about their reactions to playing it:

  • About 88% of participants said they felt responsible for the decisions they made while playing the game;
  • More than 85% said they liked the game’s aesthetics;
  • About 78% said they would make similar decisions in real life;
  • About 75% said they liked playing the game and found it challenging; and
  • About 66% said they discussed the game with their friends.

Overall, the findings showed that teens who played the “serious” game saw their HIV-knowledge-based test scores increase by three to four points, while those who played non-serious games saw almost no improvement.

Fiellin noted, “Serious games hold the promise of delivering HIV prevention interventions with increased access, fidelity, dissemination and impact.” She added, “Data from video game play and the systems developed to analyze them offer the opportunity to evaluate directly how game play experience is related to self-reported outcomes” (Susman, MedPageToday, 7/23).

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