Prescription-Strength Gaming: The Future of the Video Games?

video game prescription

Scientists are a clever bunch. They keep coming up with new ways to make the world more awesome. Their latest theory? Science-made video games could replace prescription drugs. Well, at least for some conditions.

How is that possible? Well, don’t look to Dr. Mario. Look to Neuroscape, a neuroscience center based in San Francisco.

In a Next Level segment with Verge Magazine, journalist Lauren Goode got a first hand demonstration of Neuroscape’s research. They’re testing whether interactive games are effective in treating cognitive conditions, ranging from ADHD and depression to Alzheimer’s disease.

Neuroscape’s partner, cognitive therapeutic company Akili Interactive, has created several interactive experiences that incorporate the new research. The games they’re developing are more than just fun – they improve people’s brain power with adaptation games, color/shape puzzles, and brain/body challenges.

project EVO, Akili Interactive Labs
(Source: EVO gameplay / Akili Interactive Labs)

Project: EVO may look like an typical app game, but in reality it could help people with ADHD, autism, depression, and traumatic brain injury.

They’re also developing a VR game called Labyrinth – a first person simulation (you’re strapped onto a VR platform) where you walk around a city locating different landmarks, like Starbucks and Chase Bank. These landmarks change location on each level, forcing the player to adapt to the new environment. They believe this training could help people with Alzheimer’s-type dementia.

New technology and creative innovations have opened up new possibilities in the last 10 years. VR is more immersive than any platform before it and has a more profound impact on players’ experiences. Companies are investing big bucks into R&D, excited for new possibilities in training simulations. And games like Jenova Chen’s Flower from 2009 proved that games could do more than amp players up. In fact, they can do the exact opposite.

This all seemed avant garde a decade ago. But now? Not really. Crazy how fast progress happens. Expect the market to explode with relaxation, therapy, and prescription games – relatively soon I imagine. Game designers will jump on the opportunity to legitimize the industry they’ve been defending for decades.

If the gaming industry were to merge with the medical industry… It’d be a REAL game changer.


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