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Over the last decade video games have achieved high penetration rates across all levels of society. What in the 80s was an amusement limited primarily to children and youth has today become the most popular leisure activity, enjoyed by people of people of all ages. Given the situation, it’s no wonder that sectors outside that of video technology have adopted some of their mechanics to achieve specific objectives. This process, known as gamification, imports elements of gaming to areas like education, healthcare and business.

In the area of healthcare, for example, gamification is at an early stage of development. The main challenge when introducing these types of games is not only to improve patients’ health, but also to create a useful monitoring tool for healthcare professionals.

Dealing with diseases through gamification

Addictions, stress, nutritional disorders and chronic diseases are some of the ailments that games applied to the healthcare sector are capable of solving – or at least helping patients to cope with.

In the case of Active-U, the research project is headed up by Dr Maite Garolera at the Neuropsychology Unit of the Terrassa Health Consortium. The Active-U team has developed a therapeutic tool in the form of a game, Unlocked, that helps people with attention and memory problems, such as those suffering from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia and ADHD. The project is now in the testing phase.

Other gamification solutions created for the healthcare field include Game-abling, a gaming platform to enhance cerebral palsy patients’ quality of life; mSinaptiks, an eHealth platform for mobile virtual reality or augmented reality applications; and Infermera Virtual, an application to teach children ages 8 to 11 good practices for prevention and health.

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Image | Game-abling

In this area work is also being carried out on a digital tool that helps the families of multi-disabled children to learn about how to feed their children. In addition to providing information to parents, the solution is designed to help nurses who work with children who have difficulty eating. It is a collaborative effort between the company HealthGrowth, the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and the Universitat de Vic.

Gamification in the health sector was one of the topics specifically discussed at the Gamification World Congress 2015, held in Barcelona from 10 to 13 November. The entrepreneur, nurse and teacher Anna Sort, representing Play Benefit, was responsible for organising an interesting workshop on gamification in health (gHealth), where a number of experts presented different projects and shared their experiences. Mobile World Capital’s mHealth team also participated in this innovative session, held as part of the “Science to Societyworkshop series.