Authors: Tomás Francisco Yago Vicente, Brian Mullen, Thomas N. Mather, Jean-Yves Hervé
Vector-borne diseases cause hundreds of thousands of people around the world to suffer debilitating illnesses each year; illnesses such as Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, tick borne encephalitis, Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. The spread of these diseases is caused by human-biting ticks. However, in virtually every case there is a preventive strategy to stop ticks from attaching to humans and therefore preventing infection. Lack of knowledge of these prevention strategies, and awareness of ticks-diseases infection risks contribute to a steady increase in infection rates. In the recent years, there has been a growing popularity in casual gaming and interactive media in society, especially among women aged 35+ and younger children around the age of 13. Coincidentally, this demographic also represents a significant portion of the population at most at risk of tickborne disease infection. We intend to capitalize on this demographic coincidence, creating casual games and applications that will reach this audience to develop better tickborne disease awareness and make prevention fun, easy, and popular. In this paper we present several educational casual games and multimedia applications we have developed using the game engine Unity3D, Flash, and other web technologies. We also discuss our overall strategy of using New Media as a tool to educate the general public by offering educational content on different platforms and devices, from the Web to the iPhone.