‘The Paper Kingdom’ Attempts to Make Clinical Trials Cool

A new game developed by Wisdom Tools in partnership with New England Research Institutes (NERI) hopes to teach children and parents about the importance of medical clinical trials and to dispel myths and misconceptions about them. The game is called "The Paper Kingdom," and is available for free via the website of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Geared towards children ages 8-14, The Paper Kingdom puts players in a world made up of paper where they must find their brother – who has run away – and turn the world from bleak and drab to bright and colorful. The game features a variety of locations including a desert, jungle, ice landscape, enchanted forest, a robotic clockwork world, and a volcano.

The goal of the game is to subtly teach children concepts such as saying "no" to peer or parental pressure, and why clinical research is important. By the time they find their lost "brother," participants have been exposed to all of the content relevant to their age level, according to the game's developer.

NERI is a privately held company specializing in contract research, customized clinical trial solutions, and patient registry services. The company works for pharmaceutical, biotechnology, biomaterial and medical device companies, and collaborates on federally-funded research with organizations like the National Institutes of Health.

"Clinical trials are vital for advancing medical knowledge, but kids and their parents often don’t know anything about how such trials work and the potential benefits they offer," says Lisa Marceau, Director and VP of Media and Communications Research, at NERI and director of the Paper Kingdom project. "We wanted to create a fun way to teach kids the basics of clinical trials so they, and their parents, feel more comfortable about participating."

The game is available for free on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, and Mac OS 10.6+. You can find it here.

The Paper Kingdom is rated "E" for everyone.

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