The game is a new unconventional medical resource

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During a panel at this week’s GamesBeat Summit, several experts in the field spoke about the rise of digital entertainment as a new form of treatment. More specifically, they talked about how video games can be used for a variety of healthcare applications, including neurological diseases and even patient care. Panelists included Eddie Martucci, CEO and Co-Founder of Akili Interactive, Mirelle Phillips, founder of Studio Elsewhere, and Laura Tabacof, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation at Mount Sinai. Stanley Pierre-Louis, CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, moderated the panel.

Martucci’s studio, Akili, produces EndeavorRx, which produces an FDA-approved video game treatment for children with ADHD. As Martucci said, getting a kit approved as a medical treatment was not easy: “The path was to get it to the end of clinical trials, so we have conducted large-scale clinical trials just as you would expect for a pharmaceutical. . We took it through the FDA’s two-year review process for the first time, and EndeavorRx remains the only FDA-approved video game in existence. It was a long journey, it took a long time and I think there is a lot we can learn now in the future.”

Pierre-Louis spoke about the use of games and virtual reality technology for pain control, and Tabacof agreed that traditional treatments are no longer the only option. “Patients are desperate for these kinds of approaches. 20% of the US population lives with chronic pain and only 10% actually get any relief from traditional methods, so our role is to provide better options and technology is here for it. We did some clinical trials at Mount Sinai and the results have been outstanding for VR and chronic pain.”

Live better through video games

Phillips said open-world games give patients a glimpse of non-linear pathways and show them that a setback in care doesn’t always put them back to square one: “Everyone is on a healthcare journey And I think what games do is what we do.” reapply is that they show you that there is a map. At the heart of interactivity is agency. So it’s fundamentally changing the dynamic within healthcare and medicine as something that isn’t just this paternalistic relationship between provider and patient. It’s something that is essentially going against the whole system by giving agency where it’s desperately needed.”


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Tabacof noted that the brain plays an important role in chronic pain, and that games are a better solution than the opioid medications that are still widely prescribed. “One of the main problems is the top-down model where doctors just prescribe something to manage stress or anxiety or tell patients ‘Hey, why aren’t you breathing?’ But we need to give patients tools to learn to breathe. Technology is here to empower patients and put them first.”

Martucci added that one of the great benefits of video games is that they can be fun. “Right now, we want patients to forget that they are using a medication and [feel] that they’re just playing a fun video game… I’m hoping that what we learned in the process and design will allow us and hopefully other companies to have the legs to bring a lot of these types of products to people for the next few years. years”.

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