The Male Domain-Digital Game-Based Learning for Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Among Young Males

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Health Professions


Background: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease, with the highest infection rates among those sexually active under 25. Although vaccination can reduce HPV cancers among men, public health interventions have primarily targeted females. Increased gaming rates among men provide innovative opportunities to motivate behavior change. This study sought to explore which game development and design strategies are most effective in a game for sexual health, specifically focused on HPV. We also sought to capture information relevant to preferred gaming platforms and game mechanics (health messages, avatars, and visual imagery).

Materials and Methods: Twenty-two (n = 22) qualitative interviews were conducted with experts. Using grounded theory, interview data was coded, and emergent themes were identified.

Results: Game mechanics most mentioned included simulation/role-playing, social interaction, narrative, and rewards. Experts felt it was important to keep the game in the context of the target audience and integrate the game into an existing game/game scenario or application. Experts also felt the game should link to external resources and enlist partnerships or collaborations with external health agencies. Moreover, while there are benefits to each gaming platform, games on mobile phones and tablets are most appropriate.

Conclusion: Digital games are a nonconfrontational approach to discussing HPV and can increase knowledge/awareness and positively influence behavior change toward vaccine uptake. Digital games present a safe environment for role-playing through simulated activities without real-world consequences.

Publication Title

Games for Health Journal

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