A video game being developed by the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Charleston, S.C. hopes to help recovering alcoholics reintegrate with sober life and prevent recidivism, the Orlando Sentinel reported April 22.

The game, called “Guardian Angel,” works by leading the player through a series of mini games that mimic the choices addicts face leaving rehabilitation. For instance, players begin the game without a job or driver’s license, and must complete objectives such as planning routes around the city without passing a liquor store, or ridding their homes of alcohol and related triggers. The game also includes an emotional component, with a “craving meter” that keeps track of the user’s character’s stress level and state of mind. If those cravings get too high, the player relapses.

The hope, says Dr. Marcia Verduin, one of the UCF professors developing the game, is that players will make these mistakes in the game to see what happens instead of doing it in the real world. Another professor involved with the project said they also wanted to make practicing relapse skills more enjoyable.

Research was set to terminate at the end of April, but has been extended to June, with the possibility of a second research cycle in the fall with a larger sample. The current pool comprises 40 VAMC volunteers. Once research is complete, the professors hope to make the game available for free on the internet.

Source: Join Together, a project of Boston University School of Public Health, Univ. of Central Florida Develops Alcohol-Abuse Recovery Video Game, May 10, 2010