A new video game created by EDC encourages youth and young adults in Thailand to take steps to prevent HIV/AIDS. So far, thousands of copies of the game have been distributed to young people across the country, and the game is being promoted in hundreds of schools in Bangkok.
Misinformation or lack of knowledge often puts young people in Thailand at high risk for HIV/AIDS. In Thailand, half of new HIV infections are among 15–24 year olds. A recent study by Assumption University of Thailand revealed some alarming trends: for example, a third of female respondents said they thought it was acceptable to lose their virginity on Valentine’s Day and only a third of sexually active males reported using condoms.
“New media, especially the Internet, mobile phones, and computer games, have become key influential information channels for youth to make decisions on whether to engage in risky behaviors,” says EDC’s Prawit Thainiyom. “That’s why we’ve used computer games as ‘edutainment’ to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in a way that is engaging and relevant to youth lifestyles.”
Players choose one of four characters and are stationed in “Captain Mandalar’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Unit,” where they fight against the Diga, an evil association whose mission is to destroy humankind by spreading rumors and lies about HIV/AIDS transmission. Players learn about HIV through nine educational modules (see below), and by answering a series of multiple-choice questions throughout the game and interacting with characters in the game. The game is available online and on CD.
“The game was fun, interactive, and entertaining. It was a much more engaging learning experience since I could talk with my friends and compare the situation in the game to my life,” says Wanwipa Kladpeth, a 17-year-old female student.
Responses given by online players are captured to measure how effective the game is at promoting HIV/AIDS prevention strategies. “Without adequate knowledge of how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS, Thai youth could easily place themselves at risk,” says Thainiyom.
In February 2008, 10,000 copies of the game were produced and distributed at World Bank Thailand Youth Club’s HIV/AIDS Campaign Day and Thailand Animation Game Exhibition (where over 100,000 youth come to visit annually). Additionally, the game was promoted in nearly 100 schools in Bangkok and free downloads were made available by EDC’s partner, the Population and Community Development Association, and the Thai government’s Software Industry Promotion Agency.
The video game was developed with funding from Deutsche Bank Asia Foundation. EDC’s Health and Human Development Program’s office in Asia is involved in a number of activities related to HIV/AIDS prevention in Thailand, including a partnership with the YMCA Bangkok Foundation to provide educational scholarships for 30 children affected by HIV/AIDS and an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign that promotes youth and teacher alliance networks, which to date have reached 800 children and community members.
Players learn about HIV/AIDS from the nine modules below:
a. HIV/AIDS Information and Prevention
b. Care and Support
d. Discrimination and Stigma
e. HIV/AIDS Services in Thailand
f. HIV/AIDS Education in Thailand
g. Income Generation for People Living with HIV/AIDS
h. HIV/AIDS Media
i. Using Condoms is Love
Originally published on January 21, 2009