Yale University’s play4REAL Lab is developing a new virtual reality (VR) videogame to influence teenagers’ responses to peer pressure around vaping.
Thanks to funding from Oculus Education, a Facebook-owned technology company, the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games play4REAL Lab, which has been developing VR-content-aimed health prevention and behavioural interventions in young adults, has teamed up with game developer PreviewLabs, to launch smokeSCREEN VR.
The VR videogame intervention will be designed to influence teenagers’ responses to peer pressure around vaping, and will include practice refusals in real-time using voice recognition software.
Kimberly Hieftje, director of the play4REAL Lab, said: “We are excited to be able to continue this cutting-edge, innovative work through the generous support of Oculus Education.”
The funding from Oculus Education will be used to test the effectiveness of such interventions by supporting a randomised controlled trial that the lab will conduct with 230 teens.
Over the course of six months, researchers will investigate whether playing smokeSCREEN VR can affect teens’ attitudes, intentions, social norms, knowledge, and behaviours around vaping. To aid in this effort, the lab will add two full-time staff and two student interns.
The play4REAL Lab will also host several events over the next year with the goal of bringing teens and community members to the lab to obtain hands-on VR experience.