When video games were first invented (for those of us who can remember back that far), we were excited because it took entertainment to a new level. Sure board games were fun, but Atari was way cooler.
Technology has advanced itself light years’ worth since the days of Frogger and Donkey Kong. There are still lots (thousands, actually) of video games out there to amuse us. But there are also ones designed to help others. One of the latest is called “Pain Squad”.
If you’ve never heard of it, it’s because it’s a relatively new game that was designed by Cundari—the largest communications company in Canada. It’s also not one that’s available to the mass public. No, this game has a very special kind of individual in mind. It’s for hospitalized children that are battling with cancer.
As a form of treatment at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, children with cancer are required to keep what is called a “pain journal”. It’s basically a daily record of how their pain medication is making them feel. Over time, what some of the treating physicians have realized is that some of the children, whether do to surgery or the extremity of their chemotherapy, they have either been too weak or too disheartened to want to write anything down. So, Cundari invented an iPhone app that allows them to record their pain updates by way of a game platform.
Pain Squad is a cop-like game in the sense that once a child is selected for the program, they are told that they are a part of a special “pain fighting” team. Each day, twice a day, they must report to headquarters with their documents. The documents are actually their pain reports. They are told that by filling them out, they will help to rid the world of pain. For every time they complete a daily report, they move up a level in the game (one that has various missions and rewards in it), starting at “rookie” and ending with “police chief”.
Even in its beginning stages, Pain Squad has been so well received that actors from two of Canada’s top-rated police shows (Flash Point and Rookie Blue) agreed to be a part of the promotions as well as integrated into the games themselves. They, in police uniform, welcome the kids to the various levels within the game that they reach.
Pain Squad is being used not just to assist children with their reporting, but also so that a data file can be established for further research. It is the hope that other pediatric clinics and hospitals will soon make it available to their patients as well. Can you just imagine how great that would be if it was a game that was used for children undergoing cancer treatments worldwide?
People who are currently studying in the field of medicine (perhaps getting their international healthcare MBA), may not have even thought of gaming in such a serious light, but thanks to Cundari, perhaps more of us should. It’s a wonderful thing to create ways to make our lives more enjoyable. It’s even better to invent things that make life easier for others.