How do adolescent athletes learn about doping-prevention by playing the educational videogame true champion? A directed content analysis


True Champion is an educational videogame for the primary prevention of doping and supplement abuse among athletes aged 13 to 16 years. The game was designed to include rules and processes that mimic real world social processes (i.e., procedural rhetoric, Bogost, 2007), to facilitate learning. Through gameplay, athletes gain insight into personal and social risk factors for doping, as well as behavioural skills for prevention. The purpose of this study is to assess how adolescent athletes learn about doping prevention through playing the educational videogame True Champion. 18 Canadian athletes between the ages of 13 and 16 who compete at the high school level or higher were recruited for this study. Data were collected via a one-time online session with a researcher, in which participants played True Champion from start to finish, and discussed their gameplay experience in a one-on-one semi-structured interview. A qualitative directed content analysis of the interview transcripts was conducted using procedural rhetoric as a coding framework. Three overarching themes were identified in relation to how players learn through playing True Champion: 1) systems (how players understand the rules and outcomes relating to in-game scenarios, competitions, athlete statistics, and doping penalties), 2) strategies (how players interact with the game processes in order to reach their goals), and 3) connections (how players link characters, scenarios and outcomes of the game with real life). True Champion appears to be a successful avenue for doping prevention education, where young athletes learn about clean sport through interactions with virtual scenarios.

Acknowledgments: This research has been carried out with the support of the International Olympic Committee