Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gamifying your own cancer treatment: how playing a video game actually helps patients get healthier

Video games have great potential to be powerful learning tools by providing instruction, keeping students engaged or interested in a subject, or even simply by helping students stay active using Microsoft's Kinect. A new game featured in an article on CNN Tech has shown me that there is a new way that video games can teach: they can provide the motivation to fight cancer.

Re-Mission 2 is a new game created by the non-profit group HopeLab. In Re-Mission 2 the player
uses chemotherapy, cancer drugs and the body's own natural defenses to fight off cancer. In that sense, the game simply teaches the player about the science behind fighting cancer.

But something unexpected happened to the patients who played the game: they became more diligent in taking their medicine. By seeing what happens inside their bodies, patients understood the importance of receiving their treatments and had a much higher rate of sticking to their treatment schedule. Any parent knows how hard it is to get children to take their medicine or go to the doctor.  By playing the video game it helped give patients the knowledge and the will to do what it takes to get better. The video game provided willpower to a cancer patient. Doctors and patients alike have said that playing the game provides a psychological advantage to fighting cancer by giving the patient a sense of control over the disease. How extraordinary is that?  Playing the game showed patients the effect of their medicine on cancer which gave them the confidence and the will to keep fighting for their lives.

Currently the game is only available on the PC as a Flash-based game but HopeLab plans on making a version that can be played on Android and Apple devices in the near future.

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