A game for healing brains

Rob Messinger
Rob Messinger // June 14, 2012

Could a video game really help people suffering from brain injuries?

A Los Angeles company working for the Department of Defense thinks so. It’s part of a growing effort to use games in health care and other industries — and for purposes far beyond having fun.

Blue Marble Game Co. developed The Treasure of Bell Island to help treat victims of brain injuries. Here’s how it works, according to the Boston Globe:

“Players strategically explore an island, playing a variety of mini-games along the way, such as tapping on berries to drop them into a moving basket. Each exercise is meant to challenge a specific cognitive ability that may be impaired by a concussion or other mild brain injury. …

For example, a player with a brain injury might be easily distracted by butterflies that appear during the berry mini-game. The program would count how many times the player tried to touch the butterflies, which are irrelevant to the task.”

The Treasure of Bell Island is part of the growing field of gamification, using games to achieve all sorts of results. Some examples:

  • CenturyLink developed the trivia game Ultimate Problem Solver to generate business leads.
  • Aon created the Pass It On competition to connect employees around the globe and reinforce the company’s values.
  • And the Mayo Clinic made TransFuse to teach medical professionals when transfusions are really needed.

Health care companies have been particularly interested in gamification, which is why the topic is the focus of a major conference wrapping up today in  Boston. (To listen in on the backchannel at the Games for Health Conference, follow the hashtag #g4f12 on Twitter).

Are you using games to get things done in your workplace?