Changing lives, one video game at a time

When most people think about video games, their initial thought is, “entertainment.” This is the way video games have been perceived for many years. What most people don’t realize is how many video games are used for other reasons rather than just entertainment. With an alternative goal in mind, HopeLab, uses technology and video games to help drive healthy behaviors .in those struggling with a real-life disease. Re-Mission 2 is a series of video games that allows the patient to enter through the human body to fight cancer from an internal body point of view. Video games, such as those of Re-Mission 2, have an impact on the way young patients are fighting cancer and changing the lives of teenagers that are fighting for their lives.

Watch the trailer for Re-Mission 2 and see previews of all six games:

The six games that Re-Mission 2 offers are all modeled after “casual” games, such as Angry Birds, that most people play all the time (NY Daily News). These games allow teenagers all over the world who are battling cancer to learn more about how the treatments they are using work with their bodies and why it is so important for them to stick to their treatment. Thousands of people all around the world are fighting a daily battle, going through several treatments just to see another day. This process can be not only physically draining, but mentally as well. The games in Re-Mission such as, Stem Cell Defender, are played with the goal of teaching the patient how their stem cells are working hard with their treatments to fight off the cancer cells. The image below shows what the game looks like, on Level One.

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Credit: http://www.re-mission2.org/games/#/home

During this game, the user playing as Nano Flingbot (shown below), works to attack the germs and bacteria that are in the body and trap them. This is showing the player what is going on from a scientific point of view so they can better understand what is happening with their body.

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Credit: http://www.re-mission2.org/games/#/home

Stem Cell Defender isn’t the only game that is offered with Re-Mission 2. Five other games including, NanoBot’s Revenge, Nano DropBot, Leukemia, Feeding Frenzy, an Special Ops, are all a part of this organizations mission to help cancer patients fight their battle a new way. A study done on the effects of Re-Mission describes the core principles that are shown in the game design. The study describes the game level in Re-Mission that demonstrates the battle of leukemia (MIT Press Journals) Leukemia is a disease that requires a lot of self-administered treatment regimes. The disease also requires the patient to keep up with their medications even after they have undergone remission. That’s where Re-Mission goes beyond having an impact at the hospital. The levels in the video game shows how even two years after remission, there are still leukemia cells lurking inside the body (Study), which is why it is so important to still take the medications. Re-Mission impacts patient’s lives more than just inside the hospital during treatment, but at home, years later.

Meet Taylor, an adolescent boy, who was diagnosed with Leukemia at a young age. Taylor is one of many young children that played Re-Mission during their treatment and got to experience first hand what kind of impact the game has on their lives. In the video below you will see how Re-Mission changed Taylor’s life by not only teaching him about what the treatments were doing, but changing the way he fights his cancer battle.

Source: HopeLab Youtube

A study, titled “HopeLab’s Approach to Re-Mission” conducted a study focusing on the impact that Re-Mission has on patient behavior. The study enrolled 375 cancer patients within the ages of 13-19 and monitored their cancer treatments and behaviors over a year period. This study stated, “the results showed a 70 percent faster acquisition of cancer-related knowledge,” and “indicated that patients playing Re-Mission adhered more completely to their prescribed medication regimens.” (MIT Press Journals)) Especially at such a young age, it is hard to understand cancer and what everything means. This game helped kids become more knowledgeable about cancer and what exactly their treatments are trying to do. Along with providing patients with further knowledge of their treatments, Re-Mission 2 also was shown to increase feelings of control.

Brooke Jaffe, a 21 year old cancer survivor, says that feeling of having control is important for kids especially when dealing with cancer. She states that, “cancer is this thing that kind of has acted upon you and exists in you, but you are not in control of it.” (NY Daily) The games that Re-Mission has to offer helps with patients feel as if they’re doing something to help fight off their disease. The game works well with teenagers and getting them to comply with their treatments.

Dr. Ernest Katz, a director of behavioral services at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, who assisted in the development of Re-Mission, talks about how working with teenagers can be difficult because teens don’t like to be told they have to do something. He explains, “we want them [the teenagers] to know we’re not doing this to you, we’re working together to help you fight your disease an become a cancer survivor.” (NY Daily) This game is allowing thousands of doctors to connect with their patients in helping them undergo treatment.

Whether it’s to teach, distract, or provide a sense of control among the patient, the video game Re-Mission is changing the lives of cancer patients all around the world. There are thousands of children struggling everyday with their cancer battle and this game is designed to make that process easier. It’s not easy to tell a teenager or a child what to do, but with the help of Re-Mission, it provides the patient with further knowledge so they understand why they have to follow their doctor’s orders. Video games may be a popular form of entertainment, but with games like Re-Mission 1 and Re-Mission 2, video games have the power to change the lives of millions.

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