The Power of Psychology: How Gaming Helps Fight Cancer
Cancer is one disease that's been with us for decades now. It's a terrible illness; a painful, wasting sickness that seems capable of striking anyone at any time. Though we've made some great strides in dealing with the disease, a cure is still a long way away - all we can do for the time being is treat it, and hope we can help those suffering from it to get through in one piece.
To that end, Scientists and developers working for an organization known as HopeLab have come up with a rather unique means of fighting the illness: they've developed a video game. The idea of the title - known as Re-Mission - was to grant young sufferers of the disease a modicum of hope; to help them forget their illness, if only for a little while; it was meant to make them feel empowered, hopeful, and encouraged. The premise of the game was simple: they controlled intelligent nano-bots, programmed to launch precise, surgical strikes against the disease. The game was a smashing success.
In light of how well their last attempt worked out, the team has been working on a sequel, designed for mobile devices.It will, they hope, encourage young patients undergoing chemotherapy, all while helping them to better understand what's happening to them, and how they might recover. Titled Re-Mission 2, the title consists of six separate games, all accessible through iPad or within a browser. Each game deals with a different facet of the illness and its treatment.
Taken together, the titles provide knowledge that will make patients - and their parents - far likelier to adhere to their treatments. Though gameplay most certainly doesn't lead directly to remission - such false statements could land HopeLab in a great deal of hot water - the games are definitely linked to recovery in some small way: A study carried out with participation from West Virginia University revealed that patients who played the games took a far more active role in their treatment.
In short, they were motivated to take charge.
For all the bad press video games receive, it's refreshing to hear a story such as this. It's encouraging to know that games - and the psychology behind them - can have a positive influence on one's mental, physical and emotional well-being; that gaming as a pastime can go so far as to help cancer patients fight off their illness. Sure, the impact may be negligible, at best...
But every little bit helps.