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Using Games to Improve Medicine

samzenpus posted more than 10 years ago | from the gotta-cure-them-all dept.

Science 122

miller60 writes "At we look at Games for Health 2004, a conference which will explore the use of interactive games in treating patients and training doctors. One presentation discusses "Glucoboy," a Gameboy based diabetes monitoring solution, while another looks at the use of video games in improving surgical outcomes. The event is organized by the Serious Games Initiative, among others."

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One of the other games... (5, Funny)

z3021017 (806883) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263293)

Is Doom III, which will aid the recovery of stool samples from patients.

Re:One of the other games... (1)

gollum123 (810489) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263318)

i for one would be more than happy to spend a few extra days recovering just to play more.

Re:One of the other games... (1)

polecat_redux (779887) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263462)

So I guess "A Boy and His Blob" wouldn't be a very good game to promote for diabetes....

For the uninitiated, it's an old NES game that involved jelly beans.

Re:One of the other games... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263520)

There's already a game about diabetes.

Re:One of the other games... (1)

cynic10508 (785816) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263723)

Is Doom III, which will aid the recovery of stool samples from patients.

Or how to acquire donor organs and tissue by use of a shotgun.

No no no (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264250)

A real FPS player ain't taking shit from anyone.

loss of body parts considered fun! (3, Funny)

zeeball (601912) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263297)

i'd hate to be the patient whos doctor looses that game

new games (3, Funny)

gollum123 (810489) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263332)

wow all the cool new games that will come out...first person doctor, real time surgery(RTS) etc where you can do your own operation and see how many times and in how many ways you can die before the actual surgery. will give evryone a realistic expectation from the actual surgery.

Re:new games (1)

paedobear (808689) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263611)

There was a series of games like that for PC, 10 or so years ago. Designed by a real doctor IIRC.

Re:new games (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264023)

"Life and Death" for the good old Commodore Amiga...

Never managed to get the first Appendix-surgery right without that poor guy bleeding to death :-)

Sad... (1)

screwedcork (801471) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263299)

Isn't it saddening how dependant we have all become on getting our video game fix?

Re:Sad... (2, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263340)

I disagree.

Isn't it wonderful how video games combined with biofeedback can be used to heal?

Re:Sad... (2, Insightful)

echeslack (618016) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263406)

I think this could be a great thing, but it will be hard to get it right. For instance, it would be nearly impossible to use a game as a way to help something long term because after awhile most people will become disinterested in the game. They may continue to do it, but it wouldn't have the same appeal.

Re:Sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263558)

Yeah progress sucks. I yearn for the days of olde working 10-12 hours a day plowing fields.

Diabetes FPS: (4, Funny)

Nos. (179609) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263302)

Sniperdermic Needles
Sprint/bunnyhop to long and your sugar goes low
Camp and your sugar goes high
Different health modules, some high in sugar... best be careful
Sugar fluctuates too much and you temporarily blind

Okay, who's up for writing a mod for HL?

How about the use of 3D first person games? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263311)

They are great for inducing vomiting by certain people like me. Urp.. get me away from this thing!

Blood pressure monitor (4, Funny)

A Boy and His Blob (772370) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263312)

I believe Daikatana was used for a while as a blood pressure monitor, but it had disastrous results.

Diabetes Game (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263313)

A game about diabetes monitoring? It's been done [] , and they shouldn't do it again any time soon.

Information VS Formation (1)

doudou42 (691076) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263882)

The game you quote tried to inform children about diabetes. It would have been the same about drugs, HIV, whatever...
You can't really have fun with serious subjects...

The real game about diabete would have been to master syringe, precision shot, difficult fillings, perfect timings, etc. ...

We don't need games to educate, for that, the school system exists...
We need games to have fun, and if the fun help you to improve you reflex, your memory, your capacity to recognize things, then it is great...

And just think at all the thing you learn playing Civ :)

Re:Diabetes Game (3, Insightful)

yo303 (558777) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264300)

It doesn't say it's a game, it says it's a "Gameboy based diabetes monitoring solution".

It sounds like a portable blood sugar monitor system based on the Gameboy, a cheap and readily available hardware platform.

You could have graphs and stuff.


Carcinoma Angels predates all this (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263324)

This whole game/medicine/mind thing was covered admirably by Norman Spinrad back in 1966, with his short story "Carcinoma Angels." s_ archive/spinrad/spinrad1.html

Timothy Leary? (5, Interesting)

Xerxes2695 (706503) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263330)

Some games listed as related to health research:

Psychological Interaction Alter Ego (Activision by Dr. Peter Favaro) Two versions Female and Male were released. Mind Mirror (EA by Timothy Leary)

The new version is a PC game, the old classic I know and love comes on a little square of paper....

while it's not exactly medical... (3, Interesting)

sometwo (53041) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263335)

Anyone remember The Last Starfighter where the protagonist plays a game and ends up saving the galaxy? []

"Greetings, starfighter! You have been recruited by the star league to defend the frontier against Xur and the Kodan armada!"

Re:while it's not exactly medical... (3, Insightful)

Rallion (711805) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263370)

Ender's Game is far better.

A book, but soon to be a movie.

Remember it? (2, Interesting)

EightBits (61345) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263403)

Remember it? Hell, I bought it on DVD! That movie rocks! I think just about any kid would love to play that role (in real life of course!)

I bought it about a week ago and I hadn't seen it for over a decade before that. It's amazing to see that movie today and see just how good those graphics were! Holy cow! They're damn good even by today's standards!

I saw that within the last year or so, Tron 2.0 came out. I would love to see a modern game version of The Last Starfighter. Think about it. Multiplayer mode would rock! When I pick up the Death Blossom upgrade and you better just run, bitch!

Re:while it's not exactly medical... (1)

polecat_redux (779887) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263480)

I have been scarred for life by that movie. Sorry to say it, but when I was young, sci-fi was repulsive. My mom loved that movie, and my dad couldn't get enough of the Manhatten Project. Gah, 80's sci-fi haunts me to this day.

Scarred for life, eh? (2, Funny)

EightBits (61345) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263564)

Yeah, but scars are sexy.

Re:Scarred for life, eh? (1)

polecat_redux (779887) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263622)

OK, I hope you're a chick.... If not, I fear you for thinking scars are sexy.

Fear me. (1)

EightBits (61345) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263637)

I'm not a chick. I am a dude. I am not a homosexual. I am straight. But I still think scars are sexy, and yes, I mean on a chick! I like my chicks sweet but mean!

Re:Fear me. (1)

polecat_redux (779887) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263662)

NP. I never considered that some guys like scars on chicks. Though, I figure if they're stupid enough to like me, that's all I need. :)

Re:while it's not exactly medical... (4, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263557)

More than the actually movie, what you reminded me of was the episode of the extremely short-lived Clerks animated cartoon. There is an episode in which Randal beats a videogame in which you build pyramids with the end goal of becoming the pharoah. When he wins The Last Starfighter is mentioned and he gets all excited, but then he is reminded that the game he won at was about building pyramids and he becomes a slave forced to haul large slabs of stone.

As a diabetic (4, Funny)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263354)

I am quite certain -- the last thing I need is an excuse to play more videogames. They need to attach this glucose meter to a friggin stairmaster.

Type 1 isn't related to obesity (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263387)

There are many skinny type 1 diabetics, including several Olympic athletes.

Re:Type 1 isn't related to obesity (2, Funny)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263698)

I became a type2 when a sports injury resulted in a broken leg, herniated disc, and 75lbs weight gain :)

Re:Type 1 isn't related to obesity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10264011)

They're still entirely different diseases with different causes, just similar symptoms.

Re:Type 1 isn't related to obesity (2, Funny)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264256)

I became a type2 when a sports injury resulted in a broken leg, herniated disc, and 75lbs weight gain :)

75 lbs on a sports injury? Did the doctor recommend a dose of caramel-coated lard for the pain or something?

Re:As a diabetic (3, Interesting)

LarsWestergren (9033) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264086)

Yes... reminds me of a slightly silly and probably totally unoriginal idea I had way back (even before the Matrix or Dance Dance Revolution). I was thinking of having the player strapped into a full body feedback suit and VR goggles, hanging in one of those astronaut training things with three rings, so they could turn in three dimensions.

Then you could have the stats and behaviour of your characters in a MMRPG dependent on your own physique. Like paintball, only you could have more fantastic environments and far out plots. Trying to outrun the T-rex or that fireball? Then instead of pressing a button, start running! (Or at least wave your legs around in the air and hope no one is looking...). Since you are playing a hero, their speed would probably be two or three times your "real" speed, but still dependent on it. If it was possible to have resistance in the suit somehow without cables that the player would get tangled in, you could measure strenght as well. If you were in a swordfight with a pker, stamina, strength and actuall skill at something like fencing, kendo or iaido would matter. The reverse of today, where the best players only show their amazing ability to sit on their fat asses spawn camping and doing the level grind all day and nights.

Drawbacks - impossible or at least prohibitively expensive technology. A few gamers might start to exercise fanatically, but many more would just be uncomfortably reminded of why they are escaping into a fantasy world. All want to be sexy heroes, and most wouldn't want to play a game where they could be beaten up by a jock again, albeit in a virtual world.

Games are just a relatively new media afterall (2, Informative)

Goosey (654680) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263364)

How about the Cancer Game? It is Cancerific! [] Seriously though, games are becomming more integrated into many different areas people have not previously associated with video games. There has been a TON of stories recently about games being used for education and such. Is it really surprising though? Games are just a relatively new media afterall. From written text, to pictures, to movies every medium has found uses in a wide range of fields. Games are such a new medium they have not proliferated very far yet, but I don't find this idea any more surprising then movies being used.

It's just that we're stuck in the wrong definition (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264325)

At some point people figured that photos can be used for more than the faces of your loved ones. Or that the printing press can be used for more than novels and bibles. Or that films don't have to involve car chases: they can just as well be used to teach.

However in the case of "games" we're somehow still stuck with the wrong definition. Everything that involves any kind of simulation _has_ to be called a game, and/or has to be designed as a game.

We're told for example that the 9/11 terrorists used MS's Flight Simulator "game" to train. Well guess what? By the definition in any other medium, it's not a game. It's a very complex and realistic airplane simulation, that only incidentally also happens to have any entertainment value. It _is_ all about training to fly an airplane to start with.

If it was a film, it would have been called training material. But since it happens on the computer, it's called a "game".

E.g., we're told that the US army uses "games" to train its soldiers. No, they don't. They use some complex tactical or vehicle simulators, which only incidentally could also be viewed as a "game". I doubt that the purpose is simply to spend an entertaining evening collecting points and powerups and talking smack to other platoons. It's training, not a "game".

E.g., conversely, as Will Wright noticed when he was designing The Sims, most people who bought some serious software tools like 3D home or garden designers were actually using them as a sort of a game.

So basically I'd say that we're stuck with a wrong definition dating from back when games meant pacman eating pills on a simplistic 2D maze. It was entertaining, no doubt, but hardly representative of the direction "games" take today. There were no realistic skills or lessons to be learned from PacMan. It was just entertainment.

Today we have more and more complex simulations, which incidentally are also entertaining. A lot of times the entertainment value is _because_ of their being a better learning tool, and allowing you to experiment things which would be impractical or impossible to try IRL. No, I don't mean rocket jumps, I mean for example piloting a jumbo jet.

Or to put it otherwise, it's sorta like some people go driving around on weekends just because they like driving. Yet noone would file cars under "toys". They're a serious tool which, incidentally, can also be used for entertainment by some people.

As a juvenile/type 1 diabetic (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263366)

Who was diagnosed during the time they came out with Captain Novolin [] all I can say is thanks, but no thanks. Everytime I went to the doctor, it was "Hey, play this fun game!" when what I wanted to do was actually, gasp, discuss the disease and figure out the best ways of dealing with it. I was probably atypical, but the fact remains that many kids will be forced to sit through these horrible games when they could be doing something productive.

Not a game, a game/monitor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263587)

It's not just some dumb educational game, though. It's a dumb educational game which requires you to take a blood sample every once in a while. ;)

Re:Not a game, a game/monitor (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264258)

It also contains a superhero that every kid wants to look up to. I, myself, aspire to be a superhero who gets his ass kicked by donuts.

Nothing New (5, Insightful)

EightBits (61345) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263371)

This is nothing new. We have seen games used in this way for other fields. For instance, training soldiers and teaching kids (anyone remember Math Fun on the Intellivision?)

While it's great to see new fields opening up to the idea of game-based training, I wonder just how effective it could be. It's easy to see how video game training could benefit soldiers, affecting things like awareness, when and how to hide, move, shoot, etc... It's also a no-brainer to see how it can be used to teach children. But, when we're looking at doctors, it starts to get a little blurry to me how this can help. It just seems to me that a game that would be capable of teaching a medical doctor would have to be so complex that it just wouldn't be a fun game. If you simplify it too much, the doctors would start to overlook certain possibilities in treatments because the simulators never covered it. That could be a bad thing.

Then again, maybe I'm biased by the fact that I grew up playing games that taught children and yet have never seen one for teaching doctors or professions of that caliber/genre. I hope my skepticism is proven wrong because if it's possible, I think game-based training is a great way to train. If it can keep you interested and at the same time teach you, then it's a good thing all around.

So, are they going to be putting gameboy versions of "Operation" in ERs now?

Re:Nothing New (0, Troll)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263384)

We have seen games used in this way for other fields. For instance, training soldiers and teaching kids.

I think you meant "Training our kids to be soldiers."

Yeah . . . (1)

EightBits (61345) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263630)

. . . because all those games about teaching typing made me an effective killing machine. My fast fingers make pulling the trigger second nature. All those math games made it easier for me to keep track of ammo (if I shoot on full auto for 3 seconds, how many bullets will I use?) and those damn pattern matching games make my enemy's camouflage obvious to my eyes. I'm ready. Send me in to kill bad guys. I'm a fat, lazy, mouse wielding killing machine!

If only the Alpha-Betas had known about this, they would have just left those nerds alone.

Re:Nothing New (1)

gptelemann (801687) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263641)

"It's easy to see how video game training could benefit soldiers, affecting things like awareness, when and how to hide, move, shoot, etc..." ...and after their training, their reflex is to charge straight in, knowing they'll respawn in 23...22...21... ;)

Re:Nothing New (1)

EightBits (61345) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263766)

Hahahah!!! Well, I wasn't talking about UT or Quake or anything like that. I wasn't even talking about America's Army. Just the idea that a game could train a soldier. Hell, you could even put a feature in a game (this should be in every game) to not respawn until the mission is over. So, if you die, your team has to go on without you.

And, the military may want a soldier that will sharge straight in. D-Day is a good example of this. Not necessarily charging straight in, but the people that were the most desired and fit for the invasion were rookies. They hadn't experienced what the vetrans had experienced. A lot of vetrans at Normandy were too cautious because they had seen what bullets and shrapnel could do to a body. The rookies thought they were invincible and that was definitely a quality we wanted for that particular fight. So, maybe our troops should be trained on respawn FPS sometimes.

I can see it now.... (4, Funny)

rubberbando (784342) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263392)

Diabetic kid: "MOM! If I don't keep playing, I'll die!"

Re:I can see it now.... (1)

polecat_redux (779887) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263500)

Yeah, maybe if he was playing "Track & Field" on the NES.

Dee Dee Are (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263620)

Better yet, if you want a physical game to help rehabilitate type 2s, try Konami's Dance Dance Revolution on the PS1 or PS2, or the free PC version [] .

Re:Dee Dee Are (1)

polecat_redux (779887) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263626)

Ack. DDR, IMO, is entirely repulsive.

yea its doom3 ! (1)

phreakv6 (760152) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263420)

You could administer treatment to yourself from portable health vending machines

Been there, done that (5, Funny)

Lost Dragon (632401) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263423)

"Operation" taught me how to remove a funny-bone years ago.

Now I help moderate Slashdot.

I hope you all enjoy your little laugh at diabetes (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263451)

And I hope you never get it. Yeah, it doesn't kill you right away, it just lowers your standard of living the rest of your shortened lifespan. Then you add the fact that there may already be a cure for Type 1 diabetes [] that may take year reach anyone because of the billions of dollars being made from the disease and it's just a ton of laughs. Ha ha.

Ignore trollish:MOD UP: Interesting link (2, Interesting)

waferhead (557795) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263575)

The link is facinating research, looks like they may have nailed T1 diabetes and possibly many other autoimmune diseases.

By accident as usual.

Re:I hope you all enjoy your little laugh at diabe (1)

forkboy (8644) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264001)

Looks promising. They need to be really careful, though....drugs that inhibit or kill immune cells can very a little unpredicable. I wish they had gone into more detail as to how they are keeping new WBCs from being formed with the same defect that causes them to attack the islet cells.

Re:I hope you all enjoy your little laugh at diabe (1)

Hogwash McFly (678207) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264406)

Yeah because we all know that if you find something funny you automatically agree with it or think it is a good thing.

Long hours (4, Funny)

rawket.scientist (812855) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263463)

Everquest: good practice for those 36 hour shifts during residency.

Congratulations! GlucoBoy high score reached... (2, Funny)

Nathdot (465087) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263485)

... you have unlocked:

Similar to Mario recovering a star token, InsulinRage causes the player to flash bright light for thirty seconds as they become impervious to attack. Unlike Mario however, at the conclusion of these thirty seconds, the GlucoBoy player enters HypoglycemicShock.

Geeks' dreams coming true! (3, Funny)

Bull999999 (652264) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263521)

First, it was Beer found to be as healthy as wine [] , and now games being used to improve medicine. Now the geeks will be known for our healthy ways!

Psh... (3, Funny)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263546)

This is nothing new. Medical schools have been training tomorrows physicians with the game "Operation" for years now. How else would students learn to remove butterflies from the stomach? By practicing on live subjects? That would be unconcienable.

It's been done. (1)

Mortiss (812218) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263547)

To those who played "Life & Death I or II" surgery simulation. That was always fun, but somehow I have always kiled my patient after first incision :(

Re:It's been done. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263657)

I've done many successful surgeries on Life & Death 1, you need to cauterize the bleeding and put more blood on the IV. Make sure you pull all the tools out before closing it up, I've left some in there before. :)

Jeff Bellinghausen (1)

CyberBill (526285) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263584)

I just wanted to point out this guy as a great example of using video games (in this game virtual reality) for more than just entertainment. He created "Spider world" to help people with aracnaphobia get used to spiders, and then later created "Snow world" to help burn victims during painful procedures.

I wrote a big 26-page paper on the guy a year ago in my english class after he gave a lecture at my school. Seemed like a very interesting guy.

Captain Novolin!!! (0, Redundant)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263589)

Don't forget "Captain Novolin" for Super Nintendo. The game that makes learning about Diabetes fun! You are Captain Novolin, a superhero with no special abilities or tools to speak of, charged with the task of rescuing the diabetic mayor from a race of sugar-coated aliens. No I am not joking. It is real. Click here. []

Google confirms it too [] (for the lazy)

Re:Captain Novolin!!! (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264288)

I find it curious that nobody has mentioned Packy & Marlon. []

Similar idea as Captain Novolin, except with elephants, made by the same people who brought you the fine game called Bronkie, which is about a Dinosaur with asthma.

Is medicine a science or not? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10263598)

I am a theoretical physicist; for me physics is the prototype of all sciences. When I hear the word 'science' I think pf physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, geology, etc, even economy or computer science, never of medicine.

A few weeks ago I was shocked to hear on TV someone saying that he became a physician because he loved science. My reaction was 'If you loved science, why did you study medicine, instead of a science (biology, geology, physics, whatever)

For me a science is a branch of human knowledge which has the purpose of understanding how the world works AND USES THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD for achieving this purpose. The scientific method consists in making experiments and observations and in building theories which explain observed facts, leading to new experiments and observations which lead to new theories, etc.

The purpose of medicine is healing people, NOT UNDERSTANDING THE WORLD, and thus it is not a science. For a physician is irrelevant how a healing method works, the only thing that matters is that it works (and does not cause secondary damage). Lots of drugs have been used for centuries whitout knowing how they work. In this respect medicine is closer to religion or witchraft than science. It seems that medicine is some kind of engineering. Now and then physicians and engineers use scientific data for their jobs; however it is irrelevant whether some medical or engineering techniques have a scientific basis or not.

Although very important for understanding the world, mathematics is not a science because 1) it studies abstract notions and relations, not the world 2) it does not use the scientific method (no experiments or observations in mathematics, only theories).

Re:Is medicine a science or not? (1, Flamebait)

forkboy (8644) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263954)

You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

I don't think you quite grasp the amount of chemistry, biochemistry, and physics that a physician must study in medical school. It's even more so if they want to specialize or do research.

Coming up with new ways of healing people *comes from* understanding the world. Researchers trained as doctors are huge contributors to medical research, aka science. (Going by your vague definition of science=understanding the world) Why don't you check out the NIH sponsored M.D./Ph.D. programs at various medical schools throughout the country? These people are accomplished chemists, physicists, and biologists. They are also doctors, many of whom treat patients in between lab times.

Get out of your little academic bubble...arrogant elitists like you are why the average member of the public feels disconnected from science.

Clinical Research yes, practice no (3, Informative)

Jonathan (5011) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264234)

People involved in clinical research do all the normal "sciencey" things -- perform experiments, write papers for peer reviewed journals, and -- *yes* -- they do care why methods work. Yes, it's applied research, but physicists who are trying to design and build fusion reactors are still scientists too, no?

Practicing physicians on the other hand, while they may keep in touch with current research (perhaps skimming the New England Journal of Medicine or Lancet) aren't scientists in any real sense of the term, although they certainly use science in their work. It's a bit like the difference between a chemist and a chemical engineer.

Medical practitioners need to learn some science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10264595)

Typically they dont know much. A while ago I heard a respected expert in internal medicine saying stupid things about hydrostatic pressure and osmotic pressure. If they dont know what are talking about they should not say anything, otherwise all pacients with a grasp of physics and chemistry are going to go away. They probably dont care because such pacients are rare.

Game or Simulation? (4, Interesting)

A non moose cow (610391) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263600)

The required complexity of a "game" to train doctors would tend to make it not fun. I think the same could also be said for games designed to guide many other professionals.

At some point the task that a "game" like this is trying to accomplish makes it no longer a game because it is not really entertaining. It is instead a simulation that the person is using to practice their trade. At that point, calling it a "game" seems like more of a marketing move than anything else.

Of course if you really like what you do, it may still be entertaining for you to practice. For instance, I imagine a military flight combat simulator could be pretty fun, but I still wouldn't call it a game (unless perhaps when you killed an enemy it blew up like Han Solo's final tie kill).

Play or learn (1)

doudou42 (691076) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264265)

I think the point is not "play to learn" but "learn as you play".

Re:Game or Simulation? (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 10 years ago | (#10265094)

The required complexity of a "game" to train doctors would tend to make it not fun. I think the same could also be said for games designed to guide many other professionals.

I've read a few more posts along these lines. I think that you are under estimating game designers. I wouldn't want to in compass all of a "professional" field in a game it wouldn't work. Here are a few ideas that could work.
1. A basic first aid game with characters that are similar to the sims, must include Male/Female and age groups of infant, small child, young teenager, older teenager, "adult", and senior. The game should be designed to teach first aid and lesser known medical pracises to the general public. Think having a Sims room and a "senior" Sim has a heart attack. What do you do other than just call 911?
2. Guess the illness. This could be intended for doctors or the general public. The key thing is to provide a good 100-200 possible patients to show up with various minor medical problems/ or no medical problems but just aches and pain. I'd envision this game if aimed properly at the general public could teach parents when a child is "faking" illness, or has any of the various childerns illnesses like chicken pox.
3. You could have a Sim Doctor's office that is more similar to the Sims, but deals with the money factor of how small to very large hospitals are run.
4. And you could have "operation" type games. A game for the general public could be funnier, but I really won't want to stress teaching anything of operations to the general public. I'd want a some what realistic model with accurate responses for med. students only.

Virtual industrial jello (1)

ro_coyote (719566) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263644)

Just put a Nintendo 64 with "Hey You, Pikachu!" in each and every room and I'm sure patients will just be shooting out of their beds left and right in much better health. Cost effective, too! =)

VR for pain and phobia (3, Insightful)

rmadhuram (525803) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263656)

In a related note, Virtual Reality is already being used to treat various phobias. [] .managment/ []

Re:VR for pain and phobia (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264297)

Damn, it looks like it's going to be a while before I overcome my fear of triangles.

Re:VR for pain and phobia (1)

Wyrmw00d (571980) | more than 10 years ago | (#10265142)

Guess you haven't overcome your fear of "wit" either.

Re:VR for pain and phobia (1)

der_joachim (590045) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264470)

Incidentally, last week an intersting news item hit the Dutch news. Apprarently, some doctors have started using VR games to alleviate the pain for burn victims. If their bandages are swapped, it hurts like hell. However, if the burn victim wears a VR helmet, stimuli from the outside world, including pain, are dulled.

productive (1)

3.09 a hour (812839) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263658)

imagine if the hours that went into making the game had gone into looking for a cure....

Re:productive (2, Insightful)

ro_coyote (719566) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263688)

Unfortunately, there is a very, very thick line inbetween the realms of computer programming/game design and true medicine. Good game or bad, one can only contribute what they're capable of giving. I for one, as much as I'd love to help find a real cure for specific diseases, know absolutely nothing about medicine. The best I can do is create something that would try to help comfort a patient's stay in that hosipital.

It's finally come! (1)

Gentlewhisper (759800) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263705)

Imagine this scenario:

  1. Person walking on the street

    Person get hit by car

    Person grieviously hurt

    Person uses a small medikit with a red cross on it

    *BING!* Back to life!

Now they can afford Linux (-1, Offtopic)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263710)

With Bill stumping up so much cash for the building they will have some money left over to install Linux instead of Windows. Since Linux has been repeatedly shown to have a higher TCO it makes sense to install it when you can, instead of having to settle on that cheaper option, Windows. Now, with the cost savings made on infrastructure, the money can go to education and software instead.

Re:Now they can afford Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10264302)

Looks like you took a wrong turn at Albequerque.

Come back Konami (2, Insightful)

EmperorKagato (689705) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263790)

Another Great Example that shows Konami needs to continue the Dance Dance Revolution Franchise for the States. I'm sure if they can found a large enough addressable market in the states will they may consider to continue DDR(in the arcades) or build more interactive games like Mocap Boxing. At least before the PIU Series takes over.

Icebergs in Australia (1)

SimonInOz (579741) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263807)

I recently heard of burns patients being treated using a game which was described as "total immersion" - some sort of goggle vision. But the neat part was the game it imvolved - chasing snowmen about a snow covered landscape.
Apparently it's pretty helpful - I mean who can feel burnt chasing snowmen?

Ben's Game. (3, Interesting)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263859)

"Ben's Game" [] just came across my desk, and as it's relevent, I tought I'd mention it here.

Ben is a 9-year old boy who had lukemia (now in remission) who had a wish: to create a videogame where he could fight his cancer.

Make-a-Wish foundation stepped up to the plate, and got some developers from LucasArts to make such a game.

The game is a free download. Apparently the USCF Children's Hospital is installing copies of the game in its pediatric ward for the children there to play. The game is quite well done. I can just imagine the health benifits for the child sitting the hospital on chemo yelling "Take that cancer!".

As HomeStar Runner [] would say, this kid has the heart of a champion. Way to go Ben!


Make a Game out of Curing disease (1)

KuroiHisoka (809597) | more than 10 years ago | (#10263908)

I think we need ot pull and inerspace type thing, where we can inject a remote control meaneature vesel that can relay video signals of what it sees and has simple lasers or simply hot electrodes. I think this could easily be made into a fun and amusing way to fight diseases and to internal surgery by simply have a person swallow a pill and then the Dr can play some FPS inside you body. Perhaps different visual reference coudl be created so when you are doing some micro seuters it can be represented by your repairing a hole in the side fo a space station or something.

Anyone remember 'Life & Death'? (0, Offtopic)

pdjohe (575876) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264017)

Back in 1988, there was a game called 'Life & Death [] ' where you got to do general surgeries like removing an appendix.

Then in 1990, it was brain surgery in 'Life & Death 2: The Brain [] '.

Notice, you can download both games from the sites above. I must say, they got pretty high scores back in the day.

Games? (1)

Sindri (207695) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264049)

Why would you call a medical training/monitoring program a game?

Re:Games? (1)

Oestergaard (3005) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264569)

Welcome to planet earth - calling things a "game" comforts us, it makes it sound innocent, and that makes us feel that it's not really about something else, and we like that comfort.

We also have the "Olympic Games", and when referring to animals we kill for fun we call them "Game" too.

And that's just how we like it here :)

forget medicine... (1)

zxflash (773348) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264125)

it's a little ot but we could put games to better use...

who wouldn't want to play soldier of fortune and kill real terrorists at the same time

all we need are a bunch of devoted /.ers and some cyborgs (they could produce models that look like the governator, richard nixon, al franken...)

i don't know but we already have unmanned predator drones so this can't be too far off...

Re:forget medicine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10264173)

who wouldn't want to play soldier of fortune and kill real terrorists at the same time

I wouldn't.

You speak very lightly of killing. Even if you are "just" joking you should be ashamed. Ask real veterans how it is to have a human life on your concience.

So called "Soldiers of fortune" are pretty much the scum of the earth. Most of them are true psychopaths. In Sweden for instance one of them, a neo-nazi who had fought and commited war atrocities in Yugoslavia, robbed a bank when he got back and executed two policemen who tried to stop him with point blank shots to the back of their heads. Oh, and wasn't it on the news just yesterday that American SOFs in Afghanistan had set up their own little "Heartof Darkness/Lord of the Flies" love-in, torturing and killing people they thought deserved to die in the name of Freedom(tm)?

all we need are a bunch of devoted /.ers and some cyborgs (they could produce models that look like the governator, richard nixon, al franken...)

Well, as soon as the first flame war broke out, these devoted Slashdotters would probably send their cyborgs at each other, so it's probably a good thing we *don't* have them.

You are a product of a sick death worshipping culture by the way, and how sick it is can be seen in the FPS games you so obviously like.

Re:forget medicine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10264307)

You forgot to mention Bush in your rant, thus leave the discussion unfinished as implied by the Slashdot variation on Goddard's Law.

What they need is... (1)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264273)

Sim evolution or sim body. Imagine a population of the Sims, crossed with civilization. Your population has fitness levels, genetic traits, percent of the population over 60, etc. testostrone levels, etc.

Over time, they would evolve based on nutrition and conditions.

It would have to be oversimplified a bit, of course.

Boring? Perhaps. But it's the most interesting way I can think of to present some really complex and obscure topics.

Re:What they need is... (1)

Pius II. (525191) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264752)

What a novel idea. []

What about a game that acutally helps research? (2, Insightful)

brent_linux (460882) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264335)

What if it were possible to make a game where you solving a puzzle actually helped to further along a research project. Something like distributed folding at home, but something that can't just be done iteration after iteration. Something that takes pattern recognition or something. There are a lot of puzzle game players that are off the charts when it comes to finding patterns in seeming chaos. It would be cool to harness some of this wasted energy.

Core Weakness of SImualtions and Games (3, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264367)

Simulation games, such as these medical games, share a core weakness in the design process. For example, in designing a 3-D tracking device, I simulating the sensor data and the wrote the algorithms for interpreting that data. It worked perfectly in simulation, but did not work when we made the actual device.

The problem was that I had made a minor sign error in some 3-D coordinate transformations. Because I designed both the simulation of the sensor and the software that processed that sensor data, I put the same mistake in both places. This sign error was self-consistent in silico, even as it was wrong in reality (or in vitro, as the medical researchers would say). Simulations can create false confidence.

By the same token, if the designers of the game have the same medical expert both create the simulated patient and the scoring of player's actions, then any errors in that expert's knowledge may create a false reality -- a simulation that is self-consistent but inaccurate. Doctors that are trained on the system may be to self-confident because they think they have seen a 1,000 simulated causes of X and think they know how such cases seem to progress/respond to treatment. But if this deep experience is based on erroneous "physics" then the learning is erroneous.

I'm not saying that simulation games are bad, simulations can help train doctors to recognize and respond to rare events (analogous to flight simulators that train pilots for an engine fire that they are unlikely to ever personally experience).

My point is that simulation games have a weakness in creating cognitive experiences that seem very real and very plausible, yet can be very wrong. Medical knowledge is, to date, too uncertain and too dynamic. If they do use simulations to train doctors and then discover an error in the simulation, they would need to recall both the simulation software and all the doctors trained on it.

Remove funny bone... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10264446)

...Bzzzt! You touched the side!

A Healthy Dose (2, Interesting)

DarthVeda (569302) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264450)

Who could forget such educational and healthy hits as Captain Novolin [] ? Dodge the bad foods and eat the good ones. Save the mayor. Diabetes education for only $69.95. Coming to an SNES near you!

3dfx Voodoo Ad (1)

Taladar (717494) | more than 10 years ago | (#10264679)

Anyone remember that Voodoo Ad:
"We have a chip that could save lives[...] but we decided to use it for Games"
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