Serious games developer Firsthand Technology has received a $3.4 million fast track Small Business Initiative Research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The grant will fund research and development of a serious game application that will improve dental care habits in children.
Firsthand's project is a multiplayer 3D action game that puts players in a microscopic world of bacteria and biofilms. Children between 8 and 12 years of age will face a series of in-game challenges that will encourage improvement of real-world oral health habits.
"There is a whole world in kids' mouths that they know almost nothing about," said Firsthand CEO and technical director Ari Hollander. "We have new information and new and exciting science on the dynamics of tooth decay and its prevention--but we're not just trying to teach kids about this--we believe our immersive game will change their behavior.
Hollander continues: "We are using our experience in virtual reality and game design to create a game that meshes the physicality of the Wii with the engagement of stereoscopic 3D movies."
The game will be featured in an upcoming interactive museum exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington. The exhibit will open to the public in early 2010. Afterward, the application will become part of a traveling exhibit that will be featured in science centers worldwide.