CAMH releases video game simulation to teach youth about healthy video gaming

Fighting fire with fire, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)” target=”_blank”>Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario (PGIO) today launched… target=”_blank”>”Soul Crush Story”, a video game designed to be an engaging way for educators to deliver health promotion messages related to video gaming to a generation of gamers.
Developed as a tool for professionals working with youth, teachers, health educators and social workers can use Soul Crush Story to build awareness about how video games can manipulate the user’s behaviour, while encouraging an open dialogue about healthy levels of gaming.
Problematic video gaming is an emerging public health issue. CAMH’s recent OSDUHS Mental Health and Well-Being Report revealed 10% of Ontario middle and high school students (an estimated 105,600) report symptoms of a video gaming problem such as preoccupation, loss of control, withdrawal, disregard for consequences and disruption of family or school. Males are four times as likely as females to have a video gaming problem (17% vs. 4%).”>Simulation in the form of serious games, apps and virtual reality is increasingly being utilized in health professions and community-based education.
“The game is designed to demonstrate some of the hidden and embedded dangers, which can entice and behaviorally reinforce gambling activities,” said Dr. Bruce Ballon, who serves as SIM-one’s Director of Education as well as Head of CAMH’s Advanced Clinical and Educational Services (A.C.E.S.). “The game form is to help engage in more innovative and closer ways to the way youth like to learn. It is but one tool and designed to be used with a guide.”
The PGIO worked closely with Algoma Games for Health, an Ontario-based game development studio, to develop and design the video game. In Soul Crush Story when the player tries to make a move in the game, an exaggerated “consequence” of the move takes place. In the final chapter of the game, players are presented with typical life-choice scenarios that allow them to make healthy or harmful choices with regards to video gaming.
Soul Crush Story is designed to be a fun way educators can encourage youth to make healthy choices around their video game play. “Setting priorities, turning off devices and taking part in sports or socializing with friends face-to-face are just a few ways to balance video gaming and overall health,” said Pont.
There is no cost to use the game and facilitator manual, and it can be accessed on” target=”_blank”> from any computer with an internet connection. The project was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

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