When it comes to online gaming, its most common usage is for entertainment purposes. The solve puzzles and shoot bad guys to pass the time or as a leisurely hobby. However, a new purpose for online gaming has emerged, as doctors and pharmaceutical companies are using games to help patients through their treatment for a wide range of diseases.
Used among child patients, ‘gamification’ turns the tedious process of medical treatment into an entertainment outlet. It not only helps them to understand their conditions more thoroughly; gamification also helps them keep up with taking their medication, making for more effective treatment overall.
"We all grew up learning through play," said Christian Dawson, who works in healthcare advertising. "Gamification is a way pharma can use that basic human instinct to get the right information into peoples’ heads."
And, it certainly seems to be doing the trick. According to an article in The Economic Times, a young girl named Eleanor Howarth uses online games to help her carry out her treatment for diabetes. Having to take a blood sample four times a day via pin prick was not the most attractive prospect for a 7-year-old having been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. However, the use of a game called Didget (created by Bayer) allowed her to turn her medical treatment into a game.
Didget can be linked to a Nintendo DS, which many pre-teen children already own. Players receive point every time they take a sample. More points unlock new features, just like they do in any other online game, making an enjoyable experience for children who are going through a difficult time.
Another popular game of this kind is Re-Mission – a real-time action game, comparable to Tomb Raider. The player assumes the role of Roxxie, a robot who fights malignant cells within the body. The goal is to eliminate all of the cells, presenting a challenging and engaging experience for patients.
Gamification is catching on very quickly, and its popularity is expanding to other age groups. In fact, Re-Mission is popular among young adult patients, presenting them with an immersive gaming experience that helps them better understand their disease.