My daughter LOVES everything Nancy Drew. She is a fan of the books, from the vintage hardcovers that belonged to my Mom, to modern Nancy series available at bookstores today.
She is also a huge fan of the games from Her Interactive. These award-winning games are a blast even for adults like me who love mysteries and still think Nancy is pretty cool. They always involve educational elements like history, science or social science and they've won a ton of awards.
My daughter is such a fan of these games that I am usually suckered into being among the first to buy new ones when they emerge, every 3-4 months or so. The latest is called Warnings at Waverly Academy and it's all about "mean girls" and a not-so-nice prankster at a girls' boarding school.
When she began the game recently, my daughter ran to tell me about about a character with a tree nut allergy who was put out of commission right off the bat by the school's mystery prankster known as "The Black Cat." The tree nut-allergic character speaks to Nancy's game character via cell phone (I know! It's so fun) and tells Nancy what happened with her accidental ingestion.
According to my daughter, Her Interactive did a pretty good job of explaining that this allergic character needed to use an Epi Pen and that she needed to go to the hospital. My daughter was excited to find validation for her own situation via this tree nut-allergic character in one of her favorite games, even though (ugh) this person was basically poisoned.
A couple of things bothered me, though. The allergic character told "Nancy" that she didn't use the Epi Pen till she got to the hospital (no, you'd use it immediately) and that she winds up in the hospital all the time because she's "not careful." Actually, the latter is actually not a bad reminder to be careful with allergies.
The biggest worry I had was that, as nut allergies become more prominent, they are being used as a way to "off" people in both fiction and film--or at least the attempt is made to do so.
"The DaVinci Code" (book, not movie) used a peanut allergy reaction to kill of a character; likewise the novelist Joanne Harris (of Chocolat fame) devised a character who purposely poisoned a peanut-allergic student in her fairly recent novel "Gentleman and Players." The character survived, BTW. (Incidentally, this a great novel overall.)
I love Her Interactive and their wonderful series of games and I commend them for including a tree nut-allergic character in their latest venture. It does raise awareness, and the fact that the character is hospitalized underscores the seriousness of the allergy and the need to be cautious.
I just wish that nut-allergic characters in literature, film or any form of fiction (like games) weren't always portrayed as victims or used as pawns by malicious characters. As a writer, maybe I'll meet that challenge myself.