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Video Game To Battle Rising Tobacco Use Amongst US Soldiers

Sometimes, fresh ideas pop up that make the gaming crowd go, "...huh?"

It seems the rate of tobacco use amongst soldiers in the US Army is rising, and therefore, it has been suggested that a researcher from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center create a video game to battle this unfortunate increase. They have a budget of $3.7 million to create the game and Alexander Prokhorov, MD, PhD, and professor in M.D. Anderson's behavioral science department, is already working on it. He said:

"The tobacco use rates in the Army are alarming – 38 percent of service members smoke cigarettes and 15 percent use smokeless tobacco. Wars boosted the use of tobacco. Research shows tobacco use in the military increased during World War II...Tobacco is typically regarded by young people as a dull subject. The video game-based education program is anything but boring. It provides a highly interactive, engaging and exciting experience."

It's an intriguing idea and of course, the good doctor reminds us all that tobacco "may increase fatigue, dull the senses and cause shortness of breath." The game will be called Project Combat and 2,000 troops in Fort Hood, Texas will be the first to test it out. And believe it or not, this will be the second title based on this very concept; Prokhorov already made Escape with Your Life. As for Project Combat, it will "feature animation, audio, video and interactive activities that provide facts about smoking and tobacco use, as well as a customized Avatar." Players will go through several scenarios that include resisting peer pressure and dealing with withdrawal symptoms.

Well, it seems games are being used in a variety of ways; ways we could never have imagined.

7/11/2009 Ben Dutka

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