From ADHD to mental health, having video games prescribed by doctors might not be as outlandish as we think.
Feelgood Friday: The New Video Games Prescribed by Doctors
Having video games prescribed by doctors seems like something out of a dream for most people. A day kicking back in FFXIV's Golden Saucer might be a self-prescribed tonic for many woes, but it's unlikely to be given out by a medical professional. It's probably safe to expect that they'd prescribe getting off our butts and going outside instead. But times are changing.
A recent report by the BBC followed the success story of one child's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a prescription-only video game called EndeavorRx. Diagnosed with the disorder at a young age, Owain was initially prescribed conventional medication before it made him sick. Which meant it was time for the FDA-approved video game to step in. Suffice to say the prescription was a success, with marked improvement in Owain's behavior and grades after a 25-minute per day "dose".
EndeavorRx was created by tech firm Akili with oversight from bonafide neuroscientists. It puts players in the shoes of an alien creature who travels across virtual worlds whilst hunting mystical beasts, problem-solving and building their own universe. All the while it targets specific parts of the brain that play a crucial role in attention function.
If you think that sounds fun, well don't get your hopes up because this particular game is prescription-only, as well as being purely US-based. Although Akili is keen to launch it in Europe very soon.
But the phenomenon of video games prescribed by doctors might reach the continent even sooner. As UK-based app Thymia is already making waves in the medical community. This app is designed to help diagnose mental health issues by monitoring a player's progress, comments and facial expressions as they attempt to solve memory puzzles. And UK-based psychologist Lee Chambers has praised the app for having "potential", saying "Engaging with a game has the ability to remove aspects of feeling like we are being tested and measured."
It's important to clarify that both developers stress that their games are not intended as a replacement for conventional treatments. But they are a good sign of things to come.
Editor's Note: While FDA cleared and having received some rave reviews, the current selection of EndeavorRx app store reviews are not particularly positive.