Research in fictitious xtc store in Utrecht

Under what conditions would Dutch people buy xtc if it were legal?

Etalage van de xtc-winkel in Utrecht.

Imagine: the government regulates xtc. What would retail look like? Should you be able to buy pills everywhere, or only on prescription? In the xtc store, a public experiment of the Drug Museum Poppi in collaboration with Utrecht University researchers, visitors decide.

In the fictitious xtc store - where no actual drugs are handed out - drug researchers from various faculties of Utrecht University examine the conditions under which Dutch people would be prepared to buy xtc if it were legal.

Tentoonstelling in de xtc-winkel, op een iPad kan de serious game gespeeld worden door bezoekers.

Serious game about xtc retail

Visitors play a ‘serious game’ developed by Utrecht researchers and students in collaboration with Poppi, and test three different xtc retail points: an xtc specialist shop (store), a club (nightlife) and a pharmacy (medical). The visitors are in control and can specify what they believe to be the best way to go about xtc retail, based on experiments and questions. Should there be an age limit? And how many pills can you buy? What about marketing? Will there be advertisements about xtc everywhere?

The xtc pharmacy citizen-science game was developed by a team of Computer Science Bachelor's students, as part of the Software and Game Project course.

Relationship between environment and regulation

The researchers themselves will not be present in the stores, but will collect and analyse the data collected through the game and interviews. The main question is how the design of the environment relates to the design of the regulation. The results show in which setting - medical, store or nightlife - and under which conditions the participants would be willing to buy xtc.

The xtc store will be open from 15 July to 29 September at Vinkenburgstraat 1-3 in Utrecht. For more information and ticket sales, see the Poppi website.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration

The researchers involved work at the Faculties of Science (Sander Bakkes, Toine Pieters, Stephen Snelders, Remco Veltkamp), Veterinary Sciences (Heidi Lesscher), Humanities (Stefan Werning and Jasper van Vught of the Utrecht Game Centre) and Law, Economics and Governance (Damian Zaitch of the Criminology department) at Utrecht University.