IGR looks at a serious game about HIV

I came across a different kind of indie game a few weeks ago at SIEGE in Atlanta, GA. “I’m Positive” is a serious game. In other words it is a game that is made for something other than pure entertainment. I’m Positive is being made to help people understand what it is like and potentially cope with telling your loved ones that you have HIV. It’s a serious game and it might have some seriously positive results.

I’m positive was conceived during the 2014 Games for Health Game Jam sponsored by the CDC and HHS. It won and is now being studied for its efficacy in teaching users about the disease, its prevention, and treatment. Although the game is currently unavailable on its website I did get a chance to sit down and play through it.


I’m Positive plays like a text adventure. You have short interactive scenes followed by conversations where you can choose responses. You responses and decisions do affect the potential outcomes. Right now this is a singular experience centered around one way to contract HIV and the white male who this happens to. I made good decisions and had the “best” conclusion to the story (I’m a very compliant patient). The developers want to expand the game as the work on it and include different races and experiences to the game, something that sounds like an excellent idea as the message of HIV prevention and treatment applies to everyone.

The game is remarkably simple in terms of graphics. It is pixelated and crude. Many of the intended objects and shapes are on the level of impressionistic when considering their real world counter parts. That’s not to say this is bad, but for me I spent a little extra time noticing how things were shaped strangely instead of on the game and its message. I am sure the look was a result of the fast pace of a game jam. It could also be that they found the simple graphics make a nice counter point to the very heavy subject matter of the game. I am very will to accept that as a possibility.

I am happy with where this game is going. Serious games might not be the first thing you think of when thinking about gaming, but its well worth staying away of what they are trying to do to help us as gaming evolves.

Check out their game play trailer below:


Sean Weiland

Sean Weiland

Sean is game designer with a sorted past. Ask him where he's lived and he will give you more than 12 answers. Ask him what he does for a living and he might say "game designer" or he might say "I dance".Ask him about indie games and he will give you a dam honest opinion informed by over a decade of audio, design, and development experience.
Sean Weiland