Promoting health? It's all in the game
By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent
LONDON (Reuters) - Meet Roxxi - a feisty and fully-armed virtual nanobot. Billed as "medicine's mightiest warrior", she's fighting an epic battle deep inside the human body where she launches rapid-fire assaults on malignant cells.
Or, if it's not cancer but diabetes you're fighting, why not join Britney and Hunter, two digital kids whose adventures to other worlds are spurred on by regular and timely updates of your blood sugar levels.
They are a far cry from chemotherapy, diabetes medications, or aspirin, but Roxxi, Britney and Hunter are some of the buzz products from the brains of those who want to promote health and sell medicines.
Gamification - turning boring, unpleasant but necessary tasks into an online game - is a new way of thinking that is gaining momentum among drugmakers and health campaigners.
It's an idea that seeks to use natural human instincts - playing and learning - to help patients to get to know their illness better and adhere properly to treatment regimens or disease monitoring programs.
"We all grew up learning through play," said Christian Dawson, strategy director at Woolley Pau Gyro, a London-based healthcare advertising agency. "Gamification is a way pharma can use that basic human instinct to get the right information into peoples' heads."
FINDING FUN FOR SICK CHILDREN
For 10-year-old Eleanor Howarth being able to play while trying to deal with the shock of being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, was literally a game changer. Continued...