36670 "Shall We Play a Game?": Developing a Gamification-Focused Approach to Mhealth Engagement in Youth Prevention of HIV/AIDS

Leslie Simone Byrd, Ph.D., Mass Communication & Media Studies (Public Relations Emphasis), Department of Communications, Alabama State University, Montgomery, AL

Theoretical Background and research questions/hypothesis:  A grounded theory approach, first posited by Glaser and Strauss (1967), will be used to conduct this research. Grounded theory posits that a researcher should be able to develop theories and models based on the connection to the data collection and analysis process. It can be argued that when there is no suitable, existing theory to incorporate, grounded theory can be a viable approach to formulating research. The research questions that infform this study are: (1) What do the competing mobile health gaming apps do well, poorly and how can a gaming tool--focused on youth prevention of HIV/AIDS-- be used to distinguish itself from the competition; (2) What beliefs, thoughts and feedback do study participants have surrounding the three basic areas of user experience (UX) design (stakeholder research, persona development and journey mapping) in the development of a gamified approach to youth prevention of HIV/AIDS; and (3) How can a prototype, using the results from the competitive analyis, focus groups and/or in-depth interviews, be designed for mobile-based HIV/AIDS prevention game geared towards youth?

Methods:  This qualitative research has three components. First, through the use of a digital competitive analysis, it examines the attributes of three current, mobile gamification applications being used as a tactic in social media-based health communication. Second, the basic components of UX (user experience) design--stakeholder research, personal development and journey mapping--will be introduced and discussed as a substantive role in designing an engaging and successful gamification experience.  Focus groups and/or in-depth interviews with 15-20 participants (youth aged 13-29) will be used to gather data around the conceptual areas of UX design and then applied the third, and final objective for the paper. This final section will conclude with combining the results from the first two steps outlined above, to create an actual prototype of a potential gaming experience that could be used to attract and engage youth (ages 13-29--this age group was designated due to data reported in an April 6, 2015 HIV Among Youth report on the Centers for the Disease Control website) in order to educate and prevent the transmision of HIV/AIDS.

Results:  This research is in its early stages. Although the final results are not in, the overall benefit of this research is that it attempts to examine the individualized, interactive approach of gaming to youth and looks to this population to define how gamification that is prevention based, should look and feel.

Conclusions:  Youth (ages 13-29) will likely respond more positively to mobile outcomes based on their direct design input and participation. 

Implications for research and/or practice:  Overall this research is significant because of its practicality, contribution to the body of knowledge, and its ability to be put into immediate use as it relates to mobile gaming, and using these tools to indlividualize and incentivize HIV/AIDS prevention among youth populations.