The Particulars: Serious games—video games developed for purposes other than entertainment, such as health or social good—is an emerging field. The effects of serious games in educating teens on HIV and AIDS have yet to be determined.

Data Breakdown: For a study, teens aged 11 to 14 were randomized to play conventional video games or an iPad-based serious game that identifies behaviors that promote HIV transmission and teaches ways to decrease risks. Those who participated in the serious game did so for 1 hour twice a week for 6 weeks. A 22-item assessment adapted from the AIDS Risk Knowledge Test was used to determine improvements in HIV knowledge from baseline to 3 months. Teens who played the serious game increased their HIV knowledge by 3 to 4 points, compared with nearly no improvement among controls. Participants were more likely to report talking with friends about the serious game, enjoying playing it, and making similar choices in real life.

Take Home Pearls: Teens who play an HIV-awareness-promoting, role-playing style video game appear to increase their knowledge of HIV over 3 months. Additional research is required to determine the minimum times needed to play in order to achieve an effect on HIV knowledge.