Video Games and HIV/AIDS Awareness

I found this article online, and thought it was a pretty interesting little blurb. I've copied the full text below, since the article has an annoying popup ad:

"Here's a very cool use of videogames for a great cause.

As part of a larger corporate partnership with the U.S. government, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment is launching a free multi-player PC game in Kenya intended to change HIV risk perception, attitude and behavior. Called "Pamoja Mtaani" ("Together in the Hood"), it's launching in youth centers in Nairobi, Kenya.

This is how WBIE describes it:

"The "Pamoja Mtaani" game, developed by noted serious games developer, Virtual Heroes, Inc., follows five strangers who are brought together through unforeseen circumstances, losing what is most precious to each of them. Working their way through various East African neighborhoods, players must recover the stolen items and help an injured woman on their quest. Along the way, they will experience barriers and facilitators to behavior change through a variety of missions and mini-games."

The five person game, which can be played via LAN, also has music from Kenyan hip-hop artists. All of the characters are being introduced via trailers that the studio is producing.

"Pamoja Mtaani" is part of the Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation, a public-private partnership that's part of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief.

Kudos to Warner Bros. for not only getting involved, but using its videogame unit to engage young people in this vital issue."

This is cool, because it is a case of a "good" use for video games (though I don't mean to imply that video games are "bad" in general... just an entertainment medium). It's nice to see video games being used this way, and for a really good cause too. While not something I'm personally passionate about (though I'm very supportive), I do know that HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention is really important to some of my good friends. So much so, that one of them took off to Africa for a couple years to work on this very thing.

Court, this one's for you! =)


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