Teens can test their knowledge of risky behaviour through an interactive computer game developed by University of Guelph professors and students.

PERIL (Project Earth Risk Identification Lifeline) is a CD-ROM game aimed at youths between the ages of 12 and 16. Players are challenged by a game show host from a fictitious planet, Castor II, to select activities with the least risk found in home, work and recreational environments. Activities range from preventing electric shocks and eating disorders to drunk driving and the dangers of smoking. The objective is to increase awareness of misconceptions of health risks and to encourage informed decision-making.

The game was officially launched on Monday, April 19 at the University. Two of the game’s creators and promoters, Prof. Keith Solomon, Department of Environmental Biology and director of the Centre for Toxicology, and Doma Warner, project co-ordinator from the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres, were there to answer media questions.

The project originated two years ago when some of Solomon’s toxicology students took on the challenge to write a draft game script that would educate youth about life’s varied risks. The project expanded to include Solomon, Warner and other faculty and students, as well as multiple sponsors. The goal is to attract interest from education and health professionals who have outreach and educational programs, and get the game into hands of as many teens as possible, Warner said.

The CD-ROM addresses 120 discussions topics of potential health and safety risks. One to three people can play at a time. The players are game show contestants from a ¨risk-free¨ planet competing to win a free trip to Earth. In order to win, a contestant must show they understand how to avoid risky behaviour on Earth. Players begin the game with a ¨score¨ or life expectancy of 70 years. The lifeline decreases if the players do not select the least risky option found in these earthly environments. Players are provided with risk-referenced data regarding the outcome of the option chosen. The player with the longest life line at the end of the game wins. ¨Misconceptions of risk can result in injuries of fatalities that, in some cases, may have been avoided if risk assessment knowledge were applied to the activity choices, ¨Warner said. The CD-ROM includes a classroom guide, complete with teaching exercises, that complement the game and a Toxicology Educator’s Resource Guide. The CD-ROM was enthusiastically received by teacher groups in the U”S” who previewed the program during the national Science Teacher’s Association Convention in Boston March.

The PERIL game is available for 10$ (Canadian) plus shipping and handling.

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