Noble et al: A Computer Game is an Effective Medium for Providing Drug Education to School Children

NOTE: This is the oldest article I’ve posted on during these past two weeks, but it contains elements of many themes we’ve seen recurring in newer works. This was a short and straightforward article about a formal study.

Noble, Best, Sidewell, and Strang (2000) explored an “interactive approach” (p. 404) to drug education for children. They tested the effects of “an interactive CR-ROM based arcade-style motorcycle racing game” (p. 405) on students’ understanding of the drug cocaine; students could control a rider who competed without drugs, or with an increasing addiction to cocaine. Using “an interview-administrerd questionnaire” (p. 404) they interviewed “101 children, ages 10 and 11” (p. 404), of whom 44 were boys and 57 were girls (p. 405).

They concluded that the game was successful in transmitting their message to the students, in large part because of “high levels of acceptability, even enthusiasm” from the students (p. 405). They also concluded that it “could be utilized in training health professionals and in assisting them to convey positive health messages” (p. 406).

In their conclusion, Noble et al. stated that “the acceptability of the message (and that it is not perceived as a “lesson”) makes the interactive game approach a simple and effective way of transmitting positive health messages” (p. 406). Their perspective was also subtly constructivist; they suggested that “the key concept is to encourage the target population to derive their own health education message from participating in a behavior that they find engaging and entertaining… without direct professional involvement” (emphasis added, p. 406). They did, however, caution that this would require “careful piloting and ongoing management” (p. 406).


Noble, A., Best, D., Sidwell, C., Strang, J. (2000). Is an arcade-style computer game an effective medium for providing drug education to schoolchildren? Education for Health. 13 (3) 404-406.

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