Potomac, MD: WILL Interactive, Inc., the Potomac, MD-based leader in virtual experience behavior modification gaming, has created Generation Rx”, an interactive gaming simulation, in collaboration with Kentucky River Community Care, Inc. (KRCC), a private non-profit organization dedicated to mental health. A high-tech “choose-your-own-adventure” program with serious consequences, Generation Rx” was developed to tackle the devastating national epidemic of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse among 12-17 year-old youth.

Teenage abuse of over-the-counter and prescription drugs is an increasingly alarming national crisis. New abuse of prescription opioids among children 12 to 17 years old was up by 542% between 1992 and 2002, and in 2004, 2.3 million 12 to 17 year-olds abused at least one controlled prescription drug. [Source: “Under the Counter: The Diversion and Abuse of Controlled Prescription Drugs in the U.S.”–The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University].

Generation Rx”, created with students in Eastern Kentucky as part of KRCC’s substance abuse prevention program in schools, will be available to schools and organizations across the country, via the Internet, and on CD-ROM. Designed to improve critical thinking, judgment and decision-making, Generation Rx” uses WILL Interactive’s patented VEILS® (Virtual Experience Immersive Learning Simulations) technology, which has been proven effective in changing behavior and enhancing positive decision-making.

A cross between a video game and a feature film, VEILS® enables users to role-play the lead characters in live-action, research-based interactive movies that depict real-life decisions and consequences in the safety of cyberspace. The goal is to enhance the user’s decision-making skills by creating realistic, stressful situations where the user must make decisions in a slice of life context. The experiential learning provided by WILL Interactive’s programs teaches users how to think rather than what to think.

Generation Rx” allows students to role-play as three characters of different age, gender, education and socio-economic status. *Leslie is an ambitious freshman who is beginning her high school career on the varsity cheerleading squad and with her well-liked new boyfriend Justin, a senior. What does she decide when Justin, starts to pressure her into taking pills to party and have a good time with him and his older friends? She doesn’t want to let him down.

*Ryan is a 17-year-old basketball star, who has just started his senior year with a career-ending injury. He’s prescribed painkillers by his doctor, but after seeing his father’s downfall due to prescription drug abuse, Ryan is wary of taking them. What should he do when his girlfriend asks him for his extra pills, and the kids around school start pressuring him to share his stash?

*Roy is a 17 year-old, who is half a step away from being a high-school dropout. His grandfather first gave him a prescribed pain pill to help a toothache two years ago, and now Roy sells pills to support his own addiction. After a near-death overdose due to using a mix of prescription and illegal drugs, should he continue on his path or seek help to get clean? Does he go back to his pill-popping friends – the only ones he’s ever known – or does he go back to school and get a job?

“We are pleased to work with KRCC in confronting this health crisis, which is affecting communities across the U.S.,” said Sharon Sloane, CEO of WILL Interactive. “WILL has had much success in dealing with powerful and realistic subject matter in a format that engages today’s video game generation youth.”

“The prescription drug abuse which started six years ago in eastern Kentucky has now become a national public health issue,” said David Mathews, Ph.D. Director of Adult Services at Kentucky River Community Care, Inc. “Through this innovative program we hope to lead the nation in demonstrating a new way to involve teenagers in avoiding future drug abuse.”

Previous WILL Interactive programs for students include “Hate Comes Home,” created in partnership with the Anti-Defamation League, which follows high school students as they navigate such issues as hate crimes, racism and bias; “Just 2 Days,” which addresses school violence; and “Interactive Nights Out 2,” which helps 11-17 year olds make smart choices about alcohol and illegal drugs, as well as family and peer relationships.

WILL Interactive Inc., founded in 1994, pioneered and patented the advanced form of digital game-based learning called Virtual Experience Immersive Learning Simulations (VEILS®). WILL works with America’s leading organizations to help address their most critical education and training challenges, including issues of national concern. VEILS® uniquely enable users to role-play the lead characters in live action, research-based movies and experience real-life decisions and consequences in the safety of cyberspace. WILL’s products are used by millions of military and law enforcement personnel, and are also part of the curriculum in thousands of middle schools, high schools and colleges. WILL Interactive’s unique blend of art and science allows them to create immersive learning simulations that have been shown in independent pilot evaluations to improve individuals’ decision-making under real-life stresses.

Kentucky River Community Care, Inc. (KRCC) is a nonprofit Community Mental Health Center dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the people of our region. We help individuals and families in the eight counties of the Kentucky River region by providing mental health, developmental disabilities, substance abuse and trauma services. KRCC seeks to promote public safety, boost economic wellbeing and improve community and individual quality of life.


About the Author:

eSchool News