It is proven that video games and multimedia videos are a second to none leisure activity at attracting the attention of teenagers. Tavad has used this media to fight against the use of drugs amongst young people
Despite efforts made by different public and private organizations, the use of cocaine has followed an upward tendency amongst young people. At Tavad an alternative has been implemented: a video game which puts the young player in the position to choose whether or not to take a large dose of a drug and subsequently shows the effects of the decision made.
The game is set as a motorbike race, in which the young player can compete because the rider is under the influence of cocaine. The drug allows the player to go faster, go over the obstacles, jump and the sound and speed effects are more striking. However, after a certain amount of time, these effects disappear, the game stops and the rider has to stop for another dose. The drug tolerance increases by the minute: the “highs” get shorter and shorter and the stops to take a dose get more and more frequent. Finally, the effects of the drug reduce realism in the race and frustrate all attempts to improve.
State schools in Madrid, Tel Aviv and New York have already tried this system with teenagers of 12 and 17 years old. It was suggested to the participants that they use cocaine in the first race, then played without drugs the second time. After the second game they would have to choose whether to compete with or without drugs, or stop playing altogether. Before and after playing they filled in a questionnaire with questions about their behaviour and the reactions provoked by the drug. Also, after completing the second questionnaire group sessions took place in order to give information about the subject and neutralize any possible negative effects that arose from carrying out this test.
The results show that 100% of the participants concluded that it was not possible to maintain control of, nor win the game while taking drugs. All of them felt satisfied and expressed a wish to continue learning about drugs. Many even asked for a copy of the game at the end. To sum up, the experience of becoming a virtual addict for a short period of time acts as a deterrent, making the game like a virtual vaccine against cocaine.