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Feature: 'Event Wrap Up: Games for Health 2005'

In today's main Gamasutra feature, now moved to appear at 9am PST on each weekday, Ian Bogost relays his notes from the Games for Health 2005 conference, which was held o...
In today's main Gamasutra feature, now moved to appear at 9am PST on each weekday, Ian Bogost relays his notes from the Games for Health 2005 conference, which was held on Sept. 22 and 23 in Baltimore, Maryland, and focused in on serious games, specifically those in the health and health science fields. In this extract, Bogost references a speech from Ro Nemeth of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and Darion Rapoza of Entertainment Science, discussing an anti-drug related 'serious game' that both were working on. "Rapoza, however, used her portion of the presentation to show and discuss a game, which promises to offer more preventative intervention for drug abuse than any other related materials could afford. Created using the Unreal Engine, the game is an action/adventure role-playing game, akin to Deus Ex. In developing the game, Rapoza mapped the effects of drug abuse—short- and long-term memory loss, emotional problems, difficulties focusing and problem solving, and so forth—and mapped them to gameplay attributes; so in the game, the effects of drug abuse alter whether your player identifies a person as a friend or foe, the conversation you have, dialogue trees, impulsivity, aim, movement, and skill. Skill enhancement is based on a hierarchy of achievements. Power-ups in the game come in the form of coffee and amphetamines, which players can use to study for exams in the game and do better. Cravings are represented as pop-ups during gameplay, and can be dismissed with "auto" responders (that is, auto-smoke), which models the actual addiction process. During severe addiction, the player may lose control of the character, who will use the drugs without the player's permission. Some players experimented with saving the game in a "pure" drug free state , then experimenting with drugs, then going back to the saved game, said Rapoza." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

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