This initiative revolves around the use of games to stimulate people to learn, talk, and retain information about HIV and AIDS - particularly for use as a teaching tool for those seeking to open discussions with pre-teens and teens about how HIV and AIDS works, and how to prevent infection.
One CompuTainer creation is "casino quality playing cards", each of which includes a custom message discussing HIV and AIDS. The cards have been built around the theme of sport: specifically, soccer. Thus, the theme of athletics is being used to transmit messaging around Abstinence, Being Faithful, and Condomising (the "ABCs"_). For instance, one card features 2 friends (one black, one white) with bubble conversations over their heads - one friend says, "I don't want to use a condom...we don't get the real feeling when we use a condom". His friend, who is holding a soccer ball, says "It's not true...we don't lose any feeling...sorry...no condom...no sex!"). Organisers have also integrated topics such as gender issues, "myth busting", promoting voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), good nutrition, regular exercise, living positively, exposing risky behaviour, and positive leadership. For example, the queen of hearts card features a drawing of a woman triumphantly holding a paper reading "HIV Test Result"; there is a "know your status" poster displayed on the card, with the red AIDS ribbon, and a boy on a bench sporting a soccer ball. The written message on this particular card is "Not knowing your status can be stressful." Another card portrays two women attending a soccer match, with a bubble over their heads that reads "Psst...I heard that Kenny has HIV and that..." The message is that spreading rumours is cruel and hurtful.
The back of the playing cards may be customised with corporate logos and/or messaging if those who purchase them intend to provide a pack of cards to each employee, and/or if they intend to give a pack to suppliers and business associates. This sort of incentive is meant to foster interest in raising awareness about HIV and AIDS within particular industries.
In addition, CompuTainers offer board games, backed up with training and workshops. For instance, as part of Stepping Stones, children aged 7 to 11 years have fun while learning all about HIV/AIDS, how infection happens, and how to prevent it. A similar board game, called Choices & Consequences, is designed for adults and teens in settings such as companies, tertiary institutions, secondary schools, and family groups.
CompuTainer is engaged in a number of endeavours beyond that described above; one communication-focused initiative involves the creation of an interactive CD and DVD collection including content relating to e-Health - part of an effort to bring high-quality digital education to governments, corporations, and individuals (click here for more information.)
Email from Mark Van der Merwe to The Communication Initiative on July 29 2007; and CompuTainer website.