Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 12, 1999

Game teaches teens risks of life

Teens can test their knowledge of risky behaviour through an interactive computer game developed by University of Guelph professors and students.

PERIL (Project Earth Risk Identification Lifeline) is a CD-ROM game aimed at youths between the ages of 12 and 16. Players are challenged by a game show host from a fictitious planet, Castor II, to select activities with the least risk found in home, work and recreational environments. Activities range from preventing electric shocks and eating disorders to drunk driving and the dangers of smoking. The objective is to increase awareness of misconceptions of health risks and to encourage informed decision-making.

The game will be officially launched Monday, April 19 at the University. There will be an 11:30 a.m. information session for the media, including an overview and demonstration. Two of the game's creators and promoters, Prof. Keith Solomon, Department of Environmental Biology and director of the Centre for Toxicology, and Donna Warner, project co-ordinator from the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres, will be available to answer media questions. University President Mordechai Rozanski and Warren Libby, President of Novartis Crop Protection Canada, one of the primary project sponsors, also will attend.

The project originated two years ago when some of Solomon's toxicology students took on the challenge to write a draft game script that would educate youth about life's varied risks. The project expanded to include Solomon, Warner and other faculty and students, as well as multiple sponsors. The goal is to attract interest from education and health professionals who have outreach and educational programs, and get the game into the hands of as many teens as possible, Warner said.

The CD-ROM addresses 120 discussion topics of potential health and safety risks. One to three people can play at a time. The players are game show contestants from a "risk-free" planet competing to win a free trip to Earth. In order to win, a contestant must show they understand how to avoid risky behaviour on Earth. Players begin the game with a "score" or life expectancy of 70 years. The life line decreases if the players do not select the least risky option found in these earthly environments. Players are provided with risk-referenced data regarding the outcome of the option chosen. The player with the longest life line at the end of the game wins.

"Misconceptions of risk can result in injuries or fatalities that, in some cases, may have been avoided if risk assessment knowledge were applied to the activity choices," Warner said.

The CD-ROM includes a classroom guide, complete with teaching exercises, that complement the game and a Toxicology Educator's Resource Guide. The CD-ROM was enthusiastically received by teacher groups in the U.S. who previewed the program during the National Science Teachers' Association Convention in Boston in March.

The PERIL game is available for $10 plus shipping and handling. It is sponsored by The Donner Canadian Foundation, Novartis and the Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres.

Contact: Donna Warner Canadian Network of Toxicology Centres (519) 824-4120 Ext. 2950

Additional information is also available on the Internet at

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, Ext. 3338.

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