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Video game looks to draw South Okanagan youth in on dangers of ecstasy

Ecstasy:Nothing’s Free project organizers Michelle Boehm, youth worker at Boys and Girls Club (front), Ginger Challenger from Interior Health (left) and Penticton RCMP Community policing service Terri Kalaski are launching their campaign on Wednesday. - Kristi Patton/Western News
Ecstasy:Nothing’s Free project organizers Michelle Boehm, youth worker at Boys and Girls Club (front), Ginger Challenger from Interior Health (left) and Penticton RCMP Community policing service Terri Kalaski are launching their campaign on Wednesday.
— image credit: Kristi Patton/Western News

It may not be the next Diablo 3, but the Penticton creators of a choose-your-own adventure type computer game hope their message reaches just as many.

The game, focused around a high school couple going to a party and potentially using the drug ecstasy, puts the player in their shoes. Graphic novel type images take you through different scenerios, with important decisions affecting how the night turns out, which is left up to the player.

“We started with the intent on making some YouTube videos,” explains RCMP Community policing service Terri Kalaski on the Ecstasy: Nothing’s Free project she successfully was granted $19,200 for through the civil forfeiture program last month. “Through brainstorming sessions we decided to go with this direction because we wanted it to be more interactive than just a person talking. We want kids to be a part of this and immerse themselves into it.”

All of the different situations that can be made in the game are scenerios that RCMP have either seen or heard about happening with youth using ecstasy. That is a key component to raise awareness to not just youth, but parents.

“I think the heart of it is the story. It is real and not glossy, dealing with real scenerios and issues that are in your face. But, it is not a scare tactic,” said Nikos Theodosakis, owner of Mind Festival Learning, who is assisting with the computer game development.

The message is timely; earlier this month Penticton RCMP issued a warning that it is believed a batch of ecstasy that have caused deaths elsewhere in Western Canada were possibly being sold in Penticton. There have been five deaths in B.C. and nine in Alberta since last year that have been linked to potentially fatal ecstasy.

The rollout for the awareness campaign is May 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Shatford Centre, where they plan to release the beta site for the computer game. Kalaski said the launch is open to the public and a panel will be there to discuss the campaign and speak more on ecstasy.

The panel includes Insp. Brad Haugli, a member of Penticton drug task force, Interior Health and others.

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