Even if you know little about preventative health-care messaging, you might remember some PSAs that worked, and others that didn't.
Recall the egg cracked and sizzling on a skillet, overlaid with the messaging, "This is your brain on drugs?" "Any questions?" The 1980s public service announcement became a commercial icon. In comparison, less successful health messages have included the late Nancy Regan's "Just Say No" to drugs campaign.
Now an emerging scientific field is focused on virtual reality more specifically video games with embedded health messages such as don't drink and drive, avoid smoking and use condoms during sex. And new research shows video games can work for messaging as gamers feel comfortable in virtual, immersive worlds and are subsequently more relaxed and open to health suggestions.
Other related research has found even seemingly simple visual cues like avatars can influence real-life physical activity among men.
"There's a lot of literature on what's a healthy environment. I think we need to start thinking about what is a healthy virtual environment," said Hart Blanton, a professor of psychological sciences at the University of Connecticut.
"There isn't any reason why commercials or video games can't think of ways of folding in public service announcements in ways that enhance the gaming experience to make it more real because people encounter public service announcement in everyday life," he said.