Alchemy Knights is a transformational game that leverages game mechanics, interactions with non-player characters (NPC), and use of potions as metaphors for over-the-counter (OTC) medications to educate children about OTC medication safety and positively influence their medication use behaviors. The game is designed to enhancing the participants’ ability to identify unsafe medication use practices and negative health consequences, inform the participants on basic aspects of medications including the importance of active ingredients, dosage schedules, and the harm of taking multiple medications that interact.
For example, as players work through the game story, they are required to utilize various types of potions to survive and recover. These potions were explicitly analogous to medications in real life used to treat specific symptoms, just as medications are only to be used for specific health indications. Within the game, the medications build up in the players character system as represented by the toxicity bars that fill as the character consumes them, just as a medication can build up in a person’s body system in real life. If these bars reach a maximum level, they will cause negative and unwanted health effects such as making the character sick, much like medications can cause adverse effects when taken at too high of a dose. These toxicity bars within the game are designed to decrease in a similar manner as a medication would be when eliminated from the body after a specific period of time (functioning like a half-life of a drug). These potions within the game are also designed to interact with each other (similar to drug-drug interactions) if used inappropriately and highlight medication side effects.
Additionally, the non-player character (NPC) of the Master Alchemist will communicate with the player directly through dialogue and indirectly through the potion book. The Master Alchemist was analogous for the opportunity to communicate with a pharmacist about appropriate use of medications. The Master Alchemist was readily available to inform the participant during gameplay about the active ingredients in each potion that allows it to work, how much of each potion is safe to use and how often, and how the potions may interact if taken together. Combination potions could serve as analogs to combination medications, requiring the player to understand the active ingredients to prevent accidental misuse.