Teaching Kids About Drug Abuse Through an Interactive Video Game

Development and assessment of an interactive video to prevent substance abuse among youth

From 1997 to 1998, the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Alexandria, Va., oversaw the development and preliminary assessment of a computer-based interactive, multimedia software program designed to help prevent alcohol and marijuana use among 11- to 15-year-olds.

The World Institute of Leadership and Learning, a for-profit, women-owned, small business specializing in multimedia and video technologies, health communications, and the design and development of instructional systems, Potomac, Md., produced the game.

The company earlier developed a specialized technology known as the Komputer Interactive Simulation System® (KISS®) technology.

Key Results

  • The World Institute of Leadership and Learning applied its trademarked KISS computer technology to develop "Substance Abuse Interactive Nights Out." KISS uses a variety of interactive media to allow players to access information, role-play, experiment with "what if " situations, and experience first-hand the consequences of their choices, all in the safety of a virtual environment. Scenarios are incorporated into video games, portrayed by actors who talk to teens and young adults in their own language.

  • "Substance Abuse Interactive Nights Out" included:

    • Two interactive movie video games, one for males and one for females.
    • Two quizzes about substances and related topics.
    • A keyword search (encyclopedia) of topics related to substance abuse.
    • Screens of substance abuse prevention resources.
    • User response tracking software.
    • A jukebox with popular music.
  • Students from Suitland High School in Maryland reviewed the program regularly during development.

  • Staff attended several conferences and met with educators, substance abuse and public health professionals, and youth to research program structure and content and to obtain feedback.

  • A small, preliminary assessment conducted by researchers at the Boston University School of Health indicated students, parents, and teachers believed the program to be appropriate for seventh and eighth graders.