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.


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a grant of $499,716 between July 1997 and July 1998.