5 Games That Help Advance the Healthcare Industry
“Serious games” or “games with a purpose” are games with a benefit for the real world. They are used, among other things, for medical research and for the treatment of patients. The developers of these games have the ambition to provide the player with an immersive experience just like what modified simulator games bring to the player.
‘Immersio’ comes from Latin and means ‘immersion’ or ‘deepening’. Especially virtual reality, VR for short, allows the player to sink into a complex and coherent world that takes place as a believable story in the middle of a detailed landscape. This deception of the mind is now so successful for game developers that it is also successfully used for the benefit of human health.
In these 5 areas, games improve healthcare
- In the treatment of patients
- In medical education
- As training for surgeons
- In medical research
- As psychosocial support for patients and relatives
1. ‘Snowworld’ alleviates the pain of an Afghan soldier
The pain relief game “SnowWorld” was designed for people with severe burns. Thanks to an icy environment, the patient experiences physical and mental relief. This works especially with VR headsets that cover the entire field of vision, as immersion in the virtual world is particularly credible for the brain. Patients state that they feel less pain through the simulation. But not only subjectively: brain signals indicated a lower stress level of the patients in the monitoring. In a film documentary, a US soldier injured in Afghanistan describes how exactly the computer game helps him:
2. Learning through experience for aspiring doctors
Together with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, ImmersiveVREducation is developing a special kind of lesson. The medical students take control of a resuscitation room as players and, as young doctors, have to make decisions about the life and death of their patients. The game simulates the stressful conditions under which they as doctors later see trauma patients in real life and thus prepare them for the everyday working life. According to the manufacturer, the game is made available free of charge for owners of the Oculus GearVR on the Oculus GearVR App Store.
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3. Gamers revolutionize research
The computer game ‘Foldit’ creates something that neither humans nor computers have achieved alone. It optimizes proteins. Gamers start without prior knowledge and participate in the optimization of proteins. The aim of the game is to produce proteins that are as well folded as possible, which are in the energy minimum as in nature. Using ‘tutorial puzzles’, gamers learn step by step how to manipulate and fold a graphical correspondence of the protein structure. The combination of human wealth, crowdsourcing, and distributed computing lead to great success.
In a protein prediction competition in 2008, Foldit was victorious as a participant despite inexperienced players and immature tools: it achieved third place in 50% of the cases and once the top spot. Computer-calculated models were all beaten by Foldit. In September 2011, Foldit then deciphered the monomeric protein M-PMV protease, which causes AIDS in rhesus monkeys (Mason-Pfizer monkey virus retroviral protease). In January 2012, Foldit players succeeded in redesigning a protein with 18 times the activity of the original.
4. Wii U Game Can Improve Surgeon Fine Motor Skills
The game “Underground” is designed to train the motor skills of surgeons performing laparoscopic surgery on the pelvis or abdomen. The game is a reaction to a Dutch health report that found that many mistakes in laparoscopy were made due to surgeons’ lack of training in motor skills. The game improves capabilities by taking advantage of typical game challenges using the Nintendo Wii Motion Plus controller.
5. Serious games – as a psychosocial accompaniment
“Papa & Yo” is about a boy and a monster. The game begins with scenes of the boy Quico and his alcoholic father with the words “When I was a kid, my father was a monster”. In the course of the game, the boy Quico befriends a monster addicted to frogs, who turns into a dangerous opponent after eating the frogs. Quico wants to protect the monster and can’t prevent the monster from killing two of his best friends. Quico realizes that Monster is an allegory for his alcoholic father, that he can’t help him, and that he needs to break away from him.
Games are sometimes suspected of harming our health by making us forget the world around us while playing on the computer, not eating food, and meeting real people.” However, serious games” or “games with a purpose” use precisely this pull effect of games to research, treat and train. Even paralyzed people can use the illusion that games create to induce the first movements of their muscles, more easily than they would be able to do with pure physiotherapy. The pleasant does not exclude the useful.