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Warner Bros. Developing MMO to Promote AIDS Prevention

by Rainier on Dec. 5, 2008 @ 11:29 a.m. PST

Created by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Pamoja Mtaani (Together in the Hood) is an open world, multi-player PC video game intended to engage youth through fun interaction, is designed to help influence HIV risk perceptions, attitudes and behaviors among young people in Nairobi.

“Pamoja Mtaani” (“Together in the Hood”), is an open world, multi-player PC video game created by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment in collaboration with technical experts within PEPFAR. The game can be played at select youth venues in Nairobi, which are an integral component of this new initiative to revolutionize HIV prevention. The game, intended to engage youth through fun interaction, is designed to help influence HIV risk perceptions, attitudes and behaviors among young people in Nairobi. The game is a pilot that will be evaluated by leading behavioral change evaluation experts in order to strengthen HIV prevention programming for youth.

The “Pamoja Mtaani” game, developed by noted serious games developer, Virtual Heroes, Inc., follows five strangers who are brought together through unforeseen circumstances, losing what is most precious to each of them. Working their way through various East African neighborhoods, players must recover the stolen items and help an injured woman on their quest. Along the way, they will experience barriers and facilitators to behavior change through a variety of missions and mini-games.

A total of five players can take part in the game’s various puzzle-solving activities, “twitch”-based mini-games, investigation components and time-based missions, complete with local music, celebrity icons, and fashion and tech elements. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment worked closely with local Kenyan youth, cultural icons and regional experts in Kenya to insure that the elements were authentic. Top Kenyan hip-hop artists were tapped to provide relevant and inspirational, original music for use exclusively in the game.

Each of the five characters will be individually featured in a series of computer animated shorts created by Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging that will introduce them to the target audience of Kenyan Youth. In addition, Warner Bros. Advanced Digital Services has created a website that will provide information on the Partnership for an HIV-Free Generation Initiative.

Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging also created film trailers to raise awareness and drive viewer traffic to the PEPFAR documentary, “Saving Lives, Creating Hope” detailing the program.

“To advance HIV prevention to the next level, we must walk with people from a very young age to the time they are beyond risk,” said Ambassador Mark Dybul, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. “The partnership with Warner Bros. brings innovation and a fresh approach to HIV prevention messaging for youth, promoting healthy behaviors that can be sustained for a lifetime.”

“Warner Bros. Entertainment is honored to be a partner with the U.S. Government in this worthy and critically important effort to address this global health issue,” said Barry Meyer, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment. “We are proud to contribute our creativity and talent to this effort.”

“We have developed an engaging and fun game which provides a goal-oriented way of educating youth to encourage behavior change for HIV and AIDS prevention,” said Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. “We are pleased to have the opportunity to draw on our expertise in youth-friendly technology and youth marketing to help with the Partnership for an HIV Free Generation initiative and present the “Pamoja Mtaani” game to the youth of Nairobi.”

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