Game Testers Needed!

game-ui.pngETCH is looking for volunteers to attend a UK focus group discussion and gameplay session. Participants will play test a beta version of a mobile game designed to encourage adolescents and young adults to engage with HIV testing and counselling services. We will discuss the playability, appropriateness and usability of the game. Participants will have a direct influence on the game design and storyline. All feedback will be kept anonymous.

To attend the session, you must be able to travel to the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine on the 8th of August 2017. The session will run from 11 am to 2 pm. We ask is that you have an interest in HIV testing and counselling, are at least 18 years of age and have access to a smartphone to play the game on.


Lunch and refreshments will be provided and a prize awarded to the highest scorer during the play testing. ETCH will refund local travel expenses if receipts are provided.

If you would like to take part, please email with the following information by the 24th of July 2017:

  • Name
  • Profession
  • Age
  • Type of smartphone you own (select from the following options) Android, iOS, Windows, other
  • Last mobile game you played
  • Email address


Spaces are limited, participants will be selected at random. Confirmation of your place and additional guidance for the day will be provided on the 25th of July.

Please feel free to get in contact if you have any questions.

*Artwork by EM Studios

Edward Thomsen: Games to Address Challenges in Tropical Health

Another opportunity to watch Edward Thomsen’s thought provoking presentation at the International Society of Neglected Tropical Diseases Festival held on the 23rd of February 2017.

Edward talks about the potential games have to impact knowledge and behaviour, he discusses how serious games could help bridge the gap between evidence and impact in tropical health and provides a quick overview of the current games in development.

Still want more? Then check out the short audio interview from for more on digital games for insecticide resistance management.

HIV G.E.T Tested Technical Prototype

Researchers at LSTM have been fighting the HIV virus armed with a brand new arsenal of weapons as they test out the technical prototype for the HIV GET Tested mobile game. Developers at EM Studios have been working at lighting speeds to take the game design from paper to mobile, giving the research team their first hands-on experience of the mechanics that will become the backbone of this game.

Keep an eye on the ETCH blog for regular development updates.

*Artwork produced by EM Studios

Beta Testers and Bug Spotters

ETCH is looking for 10 volunteers to test the latest version of our simulation game for insecticide resistance management. Previous experience with the game is not necessary. Some basic knowledge of insecticide resistance or e-learning tools is recommended.

The testing session will be held at The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Each volunteer will receive £15 for their time. The highest scorers in the game will be entered into a prize draw for the chance to win an adorable Giant Microbe. Drinks will be served after the gaming session.

The session will include; a short introduction, 2hr gaming session and finish with a short questionnaire and focus group discussion. All feedback provided will be kept anonymous and will be used to locate bugs and improve the game only.

Email before the 27th March 2017 if you would like to attend. Please discuss this with your line manager or supervisor before confirming your attendance.

We Won an Award!

From Trump impersonators to award ceremonies, The International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD) festival was an inspiring showcase of innovation in creative works for neglected tropical diseases (NTD).

ETCH was delighted to be invited to present at the festival, as well as networking with research groups and implementors injecting creativity into the fight against NTDs.

And of course, ETCH was truly honoured to be awarded for education and innovation in disease control through the use of games.

We’d like to offer a huge thank you to everyone that has made this award possible, from our game developers at EM Studios, to our committed stakeholders that endured long workshops and of course to the ISNTD for this recognition.


STAR – Leading the Way for the HIV G.E.T Tested Research Team

Could self-testing improve uptake of HIV testing in the Philippines? Could gaming support uptake and use of self-testing in Africa? Members of the HIV G.E.T Tested Project and the Self-Testing Africa (STAR) have had the fortunate opportunity to explore this exact question during the 5th Qualitative Reseach Network (QRN) meeting in Liverpool, Feb 2017.

The two research groups are exploring HIV testing and counselling in two very different contexts; however, both share the same goal of increasing the number of people within the at-risk populations knowing their HIV status. This shared vision means there is much we can learn from one another.

Self-testing in the Philippines

During the formative research stage of the HIV G.E.T Tested Project, members of the MSM and transgender (TG) population demonstrated a clear desire for discreet and convenient testing services, wherein a self-testing model could be ideal. While self-testing kits are available for purchase online in the Philippines, there is currently no research exploring the best distribution model for efficient uptake and linkage to care.

A Game Changer for HIV Self-testing

So what place does gaming have in HIV self-test distribution models? Short answer, we have no idea. We are yet to explore the potential of gamification to address challenges in self-testing. Qualitative and quantitative data presented during the QRN meeting has ignited ideas. Where do the barriers to self-testing lie, how do we reveal and explore these barriers and what challenges could our game currently under development begin to address?

What has always been clear is our game must be responsive to the ever-changing demand and architecture of health services in the Philippines. It must both support and aim to enhance methods in increasing knowledge of HIV status among key populations.

HIV G.E.T Tested Project Update

It has been far too long since we’ve updated the blog. Thankfully this was not due to a lack of activities to report on, but more a lack of time to write.

The HIV G.E.T Tested Project has completed it’s first year. To ensure the game addressed existing barriers to HIV testing and treatment, we’ve been conducting formative research with; the MSM and transgender (TG) population, HIV testing and treatment service providers and avid gamers in the Philippines.

In the autumn of 2016, the team conducted an online and facilitated survey to explore enablers and barriers to testing among the target population. Analysis of interviews with MSM and TG, and focus group discussions with service providers, supported the design of the survey.  The survey attracted a whopping 900 participants! There were no incentives offered for completing the survey. The survey’s popularity has been credited to the targeted advertising organised by the University of the Philippines, College of Medicine and a real demand in the Philippines for improved information and services for HIV testing and treatment.

In November 2016, Charlotte Hemingway ventured to the Philippines to facilitate workshops with avid gamers. The aim of the workshop was to gain a better understanding of how the target population interacts with mobile games, the feasibility of initial design and delivery ideas and the cognitive understanding of what a serious game is and more specifically a serious game for HIV in the Philippines. For Charlotte the event was as fun as it was informative;

I had to keep pinching myself, thinking is this really my job, I get to spend hours talking about games with people as equally as passionate as I am.

We are currently in the process of translating findings from a collection of interviews, focus group discussions, clinic mapping reports and survey data into a game design document. The aim is that this data will ensure our end game is sensitive to the Philippine context, in line with current practices and available services, and demonstrates potential ‘tipping points’relating to an individual’s decision to test. For example, an individual may be acutely aware of the impact of HIV and risks of transmission, yet they do not test because they can’t afford the time off work. The ‘tipping point’ within the game could be an integrated advert, presenting free testing at local clinics and their opening times. Providing the user with practical information to help them assess if a behaviour is achievable, at a point in time when they are thinking about HIV and their health.

The project is currently on-track to complete a technical prototype of the game by the end of February 2017.

If you have any questions about any of ETCH’s projects then please get in contact.

Finally, ETCH would like to express huge gratitude to the research assistants from the University of the Philippines. Whether conducting interviews or rapidly editing videos to thank participants, your multi-disciplinary dedication to the project has been invaluable.