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Gamification in VR can help explain complex medical concepts for ‘Nintendo™ Generation’

22 Jul 2018

From collecting points on your Air Miles™ card to chasing down a Pokémon™, gamification in modern life is everywhere. 

While earning free rewards from playing a game is a fun perk, these concepts are also being used in healthcare to explain complex medical information, treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and advance patient care. 

The buzz surrounding gamification has led to a growing number of medical and pharmaceutical companies looking to explore how they can make Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) work for them and save costs in the process. 

But how exactly does gamification work? 

“In its simplest form, it’s the idea of applying simple game mechanics to the real world,” says Robert French, AR/VR Creative, CEO of Liftlock Studios Inc. and Technical Team Lead for SoftCover VR. 

He says the increasing popularity has to do with what the so-called “Nintendo™ Generation” (anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s playing the classic video game system) has come to expect and demand in everything from advertisements to fitness.  

“The fact is as people who have grown up in this ‘Nintendo™ Generation’ with video games and the process of active learning, our neurons tend to fire faster,” he explains.  

“So, as a result, media and marketing and advertising of all kinds have had to shift gears to provide more ‘wow factor’ for less time, that’s why the absurdity of advertisements has gone up.” 

Robert adds many people may not even be aware of all the ways gaming is influencing their day-to-day lives.  

“Video games are engineered in a way to release dopamine in your brain, this is why there are thousands of people walking around staring at their phones when they should be paying attention to crossing the street because they’re trying to get the next win in Candy Crush Saga™,” says Robert. 

It’s of little surprise then that the healthcare field has recognized the potential and is jumping on the gamification bandwagon.  

SoftCover VR is one agency using VR and AR to create fully immersive experiences for healthcare and pharmaceutical professionals for everything from marketing and training to educational purposes. 

A new VR guided tour for LifeLabs Genetics™ illustrates how a pharmacogenetic test, called TreatGXPlus™, can use a patient’s genetic and non-genetic information to see how fast they absorb certain medications.  

The experience can be downloaded through an app and viewed on a mobile device. 

“What we’ve done is we’ve created a full VR guided tour where the user straps on a headset and goes through this experience and is asked to interact in certain simple ways,” explains Robert.  

“It explains how some key differences in our unique genetics and metabolism respond for some types of medications and will hopefully encourage people to work with their medical practitioners to better identify the medications they should take and the right dosage of medications specifically based on their genetics.” 

While VR guided tours such as this are one option for companies, other options might include producing a game where a character deteriorates after not taking care of their health.  

“By making simple playable games for the masses at large, as long as you’re making them entertaining and giving them a feedback loop that makes people want to come back to the game, they will play it.”   

Robert, who is also an Adjunct Professor who teaches video game design and development, says as technology advances so does the potential. 

He envisions a board meeting where employees can put on augmented reality glasses to see and interact with metrics, pie charts or other data right in front of them, while still being present in their surroundings.  

“The technology is going to continue to move ahead and the fact that medical and pharmaceutical companies are now getting on board with this, that’s going to help push even more stuff forward.” 

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With each of our core offerings, we develop highly-customized VR and AR solutions for healthcare and pharmaceutical professionals looking for immersive and interactive solutions to solve their challenges—whether its virtual training scenarios, explaining complex ideas and scientific concepts, or marketing a new product. VR and AR have rapidly shifted from being viewed as an optimistic prototype to a fully-viable platform that is increasingly being used in healthcare and the pharmaceutical industry, from training to treatments.