Study shows playing video games can change behaviour and biology

August 6, 2008
Study shows playing video games can change behaviour and biology
In Re-Mission, players pilot a nanobot named Roxxi as she travels through the bodies of fictional cancer patients, blasting away cancer cells and battling the side-effects of cancer and cancer treatments.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Video games are among the most popular entertainment media in the world. Now, groundbreaking research involving McMaster University researchers shows that a specially designed video game can promote positive behaviour in young cancer patients that enhances the effectiveness of medical treatment.

The research published in the medical journal Pediatrics provides scientific evidence for a growing field of product development that taps into the positive potential of video games and other popular technology to improve human health.

"We have very effective treatments for cancer in adolescents, but they only work if the patient takes them," said Steve Cole, co-author of the research and vice-president of research at the non-profit organization HopeLab, which sponsored the study. "This study shows that a strategically designed video game can be a powerful new tool to enhance the impact of medical treatment by motivating healthy behaviour in the patient."

The study evaluated the impact of playing a video game called Re-Mission which was developed by HopeLab specifically for teens and young adults with cancer, on key behavioural and psychological factors associated with successful cancer treatment. In Re-Mission, players pilot a nanobot named Roxxi as she travels through the bodies of fictional cancer patients, blasting away cancer cells and battling the side-effects of cancer and cancer treatments.

McMaster University professor Dr. Ronald Barr headed up the research in Hamilton, one of the six Canadian sites in the study of 375 teens and young adults in the U.S., Australia and Canada.

Participants in the study who used the video game maintained higher levels of chemotherapy in their blood and took their antibiotics more consistently than those in the control group, demonstrating the game's impact at a biological level. Participants also showed faster acquisition of cancer-related knowledge.

Provided by McMaster University

Explore further: Enabling wireless virtual reality

Related Stories

Enabling wireless virtual reality

November 15, 2016

One of the limits of today's virtual reality (VR) headsets is that they have to be tethered to computers in order to process data well enough to deliver high-resolution visuals. But wearing an HDMI cable reduces mobility ...

Video game players advancing genetic research

December 6, 2011

Thousands of video game players have helped significantly advance our understanding of the genetic basis of diseases such as Alzheimer's, diabetes and cancer over the past year. They are the users of a web-based video game ...

Video games help patients and health care providers

September 20, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Can video games help patients with cancer, diabetes, asthma, depression, autism and Parkinson's disease? A new publication by researchers from the University of Utah, appearing in the Sept 19 issue of the ...

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Glis
5 / 5 (4) Aug 06, 2008
Good Stuff, using entertainment to better peoples' health and general well being instead of brainwashing and making us fat! I hope to see more of this kind of thing. I've certianly learned enough about guns from FPS, throw some information I can use in everyday life in too.
menkaur
4.5 / 5 (2) Aug 07, 2008
i like the idea. i'd also like to see games for education and reeducation, integrated with generic games. that would be real fun.
karmaFTW
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2008
i like this idea too, if only they could find a way to make educational games actually fun and not totally lame. like if they turned halo into military training...that would be sweet.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.