With funding from Oculus and in partnership with prototyping company, PreviewLabs,  we will develop and evaluate smokeSCREEN VR, a VR videogame intervention focused on e-cigarette prevention in adolescents.

smokeSCREEN VR will be adapted from the 2D narrative-based videogame, PlayForward: smokeSCREEN, which was developed at the play2PREVENT Lab at the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games.  PlayForward: smokeSCREEN focuses on youth decision-making about smoking, with a specific focus on e-cigarette use.

With funding from Oculus, our work will not only inform the field regarding the value added of VR technology to videogame interventions, but also holds the promise of impacting teens in terms of reducing risk behaviors associated with the uptake and use of e-cigarettes. Additionally, it is our home to be able to better understand how VR may influence adolescents’ perceptions and experience of social pressure and development of social norms within a VR videogame intervention. Given that peer pressure and social norms are often a major drivers in adolescent decision-making and engagement of risk behaviors, this work is essential in understanding how social pressure can be leveraged in VR interventions to have the greatest impact. We also hope to add to the dearth of rigorous work being done in VR around health education and behavior change, especially in populations at high-risk for adopting risky behaviors such as adolescents. Overall, this work will be a valuable first step in contributing to closing an ever-widening research gap involving VR videogame interventions and harnessing their potential power to impact health behaviors in adolescents.