5 Video Games Taking on Cancer

Categories: Gaming, Parenting

Here at the Houston Press we have a little saying, and that saying is "Cancer can suck the tail pipe of an uninspected Chrysler." Around 1,500 Americans die daily of the disease, which is like 9/11 happening every other day. It's an ongoing fight to beat back the Tumor Kaiser, and Houston especially is a potent base in that war.

Now, I'm not smart enough to know which end of the test tube is up so my ability to enlist in the fight is minimal. However, I do know video games pretty well, and today I would like to present to you five of them currently being used to kick Big C right in its bulgy groin. Get ready, Player One.

One of the biggest obstacles in treating cancer is helping the patients stay positive and invested in the fight. Hearing that you've got leukemia is a severe blow to anyone, but having a way to visualize exactly what is going on in your body is a fantastic method to help keep up your morale.

In 2006 HopeLab Foundation took consultation from doctors, nurses, and young cancer patients as well as teaming with game developer Realtime Associates to release the free third-person shooter Re-Mission starring the nanobot Roxxi. Roxxi would enter the body of a patient in order to eliminate cancer and related infections at a cellular level with her arsenal of Chemoblasters, Radiation Guns, and antibiotic rocket. In addition, the player would have to monitor the health of the patient and report back to base for instructions should that health deteriorate.

In 2012 a study about the effectiveness of Re-Mission showed that playing the game significantly increased adherence to treatment protocols and knowledge about the disease in patients 13 - 29. Taking the results of the study, the HopeLab team went on to consult with another 120 young cancer patients to produce Re-Mission 2 for iOS and Android, and continues to track the effectiveness in using games to further enhance cancer treatments.

The Patient Empowerment Interactive Video Game
The University of Utah is taking the potential of video games to empower pediatric patients extremely seriously, but unlike most of the others who have focused on just the mental aspect of gaming they want to explore the importance of physical motion. See, sick kids don't like to move. They feel bad, have low energy reserves, and may be physically debilitated.

Exercise and motion, not to mention cooperative physical play, are hugely important to the development of a child's social growth and mental state. That's why the Patient Empowerment Interactive Video Game is built more on the Wii model of trying to get kids up and moving around during play. Carol Bruggers, a professor in the University of Utah's Department of Pediatrics and physician at Primary Children's Medical Center, said in a 2012 interview about the game that "a growing number of published studies show promise in effecting specific health-related behavioral changes and self-management of obesity, neurological disorders, cancer or asthma. We envision interactive exergames designed to enhance patient empowerment, compliance and clinical outcomes for specific disease categories".

This story continues on the next page.

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Jim Rassinier
Jim Rassinier

Great story, and something I hope this paper focuses on more often.

FattyFatBastard topcommenter

Good article.  I had never heard of any of these.

JefWithOneF topcommenter

@FattyFatBastard  It was a really interesting topic to research, but that last one was brutal. It actually makes me glad I don't have a Ouya. I'm not sure I'm big enough to take that one on. 

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