Mar 28, 2013

Can A Video Game Alleviate Flu Shot Fears in Children?

 Predictive programming at its finest with a video game to condition the kids to associate the fun of playing games with the innate fears of being injected with poisons.
Via: NBC 
Doctors and a team of college video game designers have collaborated on a new video game they hope will alleviate children's fears about getting a flu shot.

The flu shot can be scary especially for 10-year-olds like Nick Hernandez.

"I'm not a fan of the needle."

Enter Flu-Busters, a video game designed to help kids with their fears of getting the flu shot.

"When we looked ... A lot of our patients, especially the adolescents, were not getting immunized."

To turn his idea about a flu video game into reality, Krilov turned to ... Who else? Big kids.

"I hated needles, too but I hated getting the flu more."

Senior Sam Zarahn was part of a team of video game students who worked with professor Elena Bertozzi to design the game in just a couple of months.

"We sat around thinking, 'How can we make getting a shot something kids would want to do?'"

The ten minute game puts kids in different school situations where they're exposed to flu germs.

If they make the right choices, they can walk away without getting sick.

"The biggest challenge for designers was making it fun for kids... Their answer was to create a superhero named Vaccine Man and to turn flu germs into a disgusting green villain."

"I just wanted to create something that was gross"

Gross or not hospital staff have been testing the game on kids at outpatient clinics.

So far all the youngsters who have seen it have agreed to get a flu shot.

"But now I understand the dangers of the flu."

The hospital hopes to make the game available to kids everywhere.