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How a Mobile Game is Helping Understand Dementia

13 December, 2017

, games

Mobile games are a waste of time, and they cause more harm than good. This is what most of us who have kids and teenagers at home seem to believe. If you feel so, then think again, for not all games are bad. There is one mobile game that is becoming the largest dementia study ever in history. 

The game, Sea Hero Quest is said to have provided scientists with 136 centuries worth of dementia research data in their quest to fight this disabling disease. This is a game with a difference, created with a purpose - to help scientists find ways to diagnose dementia early as well as arrive at treatment options. Currently, it is estimated that there could be 50 million people worldwide living with this disease. The impact is said to be more in developing countries with the elderly population growing fast in India, China, and other South Asian countries.

Till date, almost three million people have played this game, each contributing a priceless amount of research data. The game is the result of collaboration between Deutsche Telekom, Alzheimer’s Research UK, game designers Glitchers and scientists. They say that it is ‘more than just a game, it is a quest to save the brain.’ Indeed, when people lose their mental abilities, caring for them also becomes a huge task. Caregivers across the world agree on the difficulties and challenges in caring for dementia affected persons.

About the game

In this game, players have to provide their sex and age to start. They then proceed to navigate a boat through different themes across 75 levels testing a person’s spatial navigation capability. The spatial navigation capability is said to be one of the first abilities that dementia affects. By playing the game for a mere 2 minutes, players help generate data which otherwise would have taken the scientists 5 hours to generate.

The data generated already has proved that the spatial navigation capability starts to decline above 19 years. This was a significant finding as it was earlier believed that the spatial navigation capabilities only declined in old age. It has also been proved that there are fundamental differences in the way men and women strategize for spatial navigation. It was also observed that Nordic players had better spatial navigation capabilities. Though the game was designed for a scientific purpose, it has all the trappings of a game that keeps the players interested. The only difference is that the data generated is charted by scientists based on how the players navigate through the various levels and themes.

What next?

The players continue to play the game and data keeps getting generated which the scientists continue to pore over in order in their quest to arrive at possible outputs to help in the diagnosis and the treatment of this killer disease called dementia. It is said to be used in clinical settings as well as drug trials too to understand the implications of medication for this disease. 

It is still available for free download, and anyone who wants to participate in this study can do so by playing the game. There will be an added satisfaction that while having some recreation; you are also contributing to a larger cause, one that is very important to society. It is said that every 3 seconds, somewhere in the world, there is a new case of dementia. And since there is no known cure, it is a big concern for health care officials around the world. That is the reason why this mobile game has become so important in dementia research.


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