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Pos or Not to Help Fight HIV
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Written by Christophor "SuperGuido" Rick   
Thursday, 01 May 2008

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mtvU, MTV’s Peabody and Emmy Award-winning college network, and the Kaiser Family Foundation, in partnership with POZ Magazine, today unveiled Pos or Not (www.PosorNot.com): an online game that challenges stereotypes and breaks down the barriers that may prevent people from talking openly about HIV/AIDS, getting tested, and using protection.

 People from across the U.S. – half of whom are living with HIV and half who are not – share parts of their lives for Pos or Not by divulging their HIV status to help dispel myths and misconceptions about HIV and AIDS. Players confront their own HIV stereotypes as they guess whether a profiled participant is positive or negative based only on a photo and a few personal details, such as what they do on the weekends or their favorite kind of music.

Among the participants who are positive, we’re provided a window on the circumstances in which they learn their HIV status – including after the birth of a child, calls from ex-lovers, and long-postponed HIV tests. HIV negative participants share how the disease has touched their lives, claiming boyfriends, girlfriends, mothers and best friends. Every individual stresses that HIV affects everyone and that the only way to truly know your own or some else’s HIV status is by getting tested.
While Pos or Not confronts stereotypes and popular misconceptions about HIV/AIDS, it also provides users with information about HIV prevention, as well as local HIV and STD testing resources from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). In addition, players are invited to join the game to help underscore that there’s no way to tell a person’s HIV status from how they look or what they do.

Several of the most requested acts on college campuses and major pop culture figures are also lending their efforts to help stoke the online viral spread of “Pos or Not,” including Wyclef Jean, Fall Out Boy, Will.i.am, Alyssa Milano, Say Anything, Perez Hilton, Angels & Airwaves, Atmosphere, The Spill Canvas, 30 Seconds to Mars, Aesop Rock, Motion City Soundtrack, All Time Low and Rise Against. Beginning today, these and many others are sending the game to their fans, families and friends, via a feature that allows users to share “Pos or Not” with everybody in their e-mail address books with only a couple clicks.

Pos or Not confronts the stigma and stereotypes that fuel the continued spread of this disease some 25 years since the first diagnosis,” said Tina Hoff, vice president and director of Entertainment Media Partnerships at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “‘Pos or Not’ has the powerful effect of allowing young people across the country to learn more about those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and in doing so hopefully form a more personal understanding of the disease.”

Pos or Not was inspired by the winners of the “Change the Course of HIV Challenge,” a nationwide competition that asked college students to propose a viral, Web-based game that would creatively engage people to help combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. The winning concept was submitted by a team from the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy and included designers Brendan McLeod and Matthew Laurence, programmers Chris Camilleri and Gabriel Montagne, and artist Chip Lundell.

College students helped conceive Pos or Not and are pioneering the future of digital activism every day, so mtvU, the Kaiser Family Foundation and POZ Magazine are calling on users to imagine ways the game can be even more viral and impactful. Anyone with a vision for how “Pos or Not” can be effectively executed on other platforms (mobile, social networks, etc.), remixed, or in any way serve as an even more powerful call to action on the HIV/AIDS epidemic are encouraged to send ideas to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . mtvU and the Kaiser Family Foundation are committing to incorporate the best concepts into future versions of the game – or a completely re-imagined iteration – so it continues to evolve and reach more people.

Pos or Not follows on the success of Darfur is Dying (www.DarfurisDying.com), mtvU’s student-developed videogame – now played more than 3 million times by over 1.5 million people – designed to spread awareness of and spur action to end the genocide in Darfur. Darfur is Dying is a narrative-based simulation where the user, from the perspective of a displaced Darfurian, negotiates forces that threaten the survival of his or her refugee camp. The game is a key element of mtvU’s nearly four-year, student-led, Emmy Award-winning Sudan campaign.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 May 2008 )

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