The Opioid Prevention Game: A VR Prototype About Highs and Lows

The Edification Project’s David Murray was looking for a good way to portray the effects of opioid addiction. He wanted to capture both the effects of being on these drugs, as well as the downsides of being physically addicted to them. For this, he turned to PreviewLabs. The Opioid Prevention Game is a virtual reality (VR) prototype of highs and lows, until you can’t go on any longer.

The Opioid Addiction Game tells the story of Mike’s opioid addiction from start to coma.

The player takes control over our main character Mike through the Oculus Rift headset, controlling his hands with two Oculus Touch controllers. This way, the player gets to experience the addiction developing and witnessing Mike’s experiences from a front row seat.

A Seemingly Harmless Start

As it usually goes with opioids, the addiction starts off with what the game’s character sees as fairly harmless. The player takes a small dose of opioids, and the effects are portrayed using vibrant colors and music – life is beautiful. Unfortunately, this high quickly fades out and they are faced again with reality. The player feels bad and misses the feeling experienced after knocking down some seemingly harmless pills.

As it goes, the player is tempted to once again to take some pills. And another time after that. After that high, even another. That’s when the psychological addiction starts. Each time they take opioids, their effects kicks in again, but they seem less intense and fade out increasingly faster. Every low appears to be worse, and each time after the last dose has faded, the world becomes a bit darker.

Portraying Physical Addiction

Eventually, the player is not able to support their opioid habit anymore and has to look for a job. They land a gig at the local hardware store, where their habit runs into some new, more practical issues. At this point, the physical addiction of the player is so bad, they have some withdrawal effects and can’t keep their hands from shaking uncontrollably when sober. Because of this, the player can’t do simple, everyday tasks that are required for the job. We portray this by letting the player hit some nails with a hammer while their hands are shaking madly.

Eventually the opioid addiction takes its toll and the player slips into a coma.

The Opioid Addiction Game isn’t the first prototype we built for educational purposes. Among other projects, we have also brainstormed and conceived a prototype for a game about the Great Irish Famine. Do you also have a subject that game technology might make more understandable? Reach out to us and we’ll gladly help you test your concept with a prototype!

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