Researchers develop unique online game for Australian teens

April 2015

Researchers from the Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use (CREMS), a consortium led by NDARC, have developed a unique interactive drug education game for Australian teenagers.

Called Pure Rush, the game is targeted at students in Years 8 to 10 and aims to inform adolescents about the potential harms of cannabis, methamphetamine, hallucinogens and pills such as ecstasy. The aim of the game is to avoid (jump over) illicit drugs to reach a music festival in as fast a time as possible.

The researchers interviewed over 100 high school students in five schools across Sydney and Perth to learn what game features they enjoy. These were combined with evidence-based drug prevention strategies to create Pure Rush.

The game differs from the handful of existing drug education games in its use of the popular “race” genre rather than role playing; its emphasis on interactive learning, with characters experiencing the effects of any illicit drugs they collide with (e.g. cannabis slows them down); and its inclusion of Australian landscapes and animals.

Pure Rush also reminds teens they are in the majority if they choose not to take illicit drugs. The latest survey of Australian secondary school students in 2011 showed 7.7% of students aged 12-17 years had used an illicit substance in the past month, while 15.6% had used one in their lifetime. 

Director of CREMS and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow at NDARC, Professor Maree Teesson, said drug education is most effective when it is active and engaging.

“Educational games like Pure Rush are an exciting development because they can engage students who don’t respond to traditional drug education".  

Pure Rush is free and optimised for play as an app, available through Google Play and iTunes, and can also be played online. The game has four levels, takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete and is suitable to be incorporated into a high school lesson plan. Drug education booklets to accompany the game have also been developed for students, parents and teachers.

Pure Rush is just one of a number of drug prevention resources developed by CREMS. To view additional resources please visit

The game was built by developers 2and2, and funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.