Steven Spielberg
Image: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Steven Spielberg has been no stranger to video games over the years. Not only has he had his films adapted into games in the past, but he's also developed titles like Boom Blox and Boom Blox Bash Party (in conjunction with Electronic Arts) as well as briefly collaborated with Arkane Studios on the cancelled sci-fi project LMNO.

Something that's a bit more obscure than all of the above, however, is that in the early 2000s, he also made a free star-studded game called Quest for the Code, intended to teach kids about asthma and asthma management skills with the charity foundation Starbright (of which he is the chair).

The game was announced in May 2002 in a press release and boasted an impressive cast. This included Cuba Gooding, Jr. as a live-action guide named Cyrus, Kelsey Grammer as an evil supervillain named Mucus Airgon, and various other celebrities like Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Funkmaster Flex, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Shaquille O'Neal, and Gwyneth Paltrow as enemy asthma triggers.

Quest for the Code Website
The Quest for the Code website — Image: Starbright Foundation

The aim of the game was to point, drag, and click on different parts of the screen to defeat these eight villains, while picking up practical information along the way on how to lessen the odds of an asthma attack.

Spielberg said in the press release about the game:

"By entertaining children as we educate them, we break down the walls of resistance and open them up to the power they can have over their illness and over their lives. Children who understand how to manage their illness can then go back to just being children."

Parents of children with asthma, living in the US, could order the game (in Spanish or English) as a free CD-ROM, with a web-platform version being made available later on in 2007. We only came across it recently, thanks to visiting Kelsey Grammer's Wikipedia page, where the game is listed as one of his sole video game credits alongside his appearance as Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons Game.

What's so interesting about Quest for the Code isn't just the number of celebrities involved or their incredible character names (the Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg plays the flatteringly named Moldy, for instance) but that one of the only user reviews we could find bizarrely attributes it with their lesbian awakening. As for more serious evaluations, it appears that a study from Arizona State University concluded that Quest for the Code was "an effective tool for asthma education in a classroom setting". Therefore, Spielberg and co. were arguably successful with the software.

If you want to check the game out yourself, you can watch a video playthrough of it below or visit its promotional website (that someone remarkably had the foresight to archive):

Have you ever heard of this game before? Let us know in the comments!