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Medical Game Jam: online games to develop medical research

Medical Game Jam. Des jeux en ligne pour nourrir la recherche médicale
Published on
16 December 2019

Last November, the community of patients for research at the AP-HP and Grenoble Ecole de Management organized the first Medical Game Jam at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. The goal was to develop online games that would encourage patients to participate in medical research for chronic diseases.

Created in 2017, the community of patients for research now includes 33,321 volunteer patients who wish to help advance medical research and healthcare for their chronic disease: cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, hypertension, vitiligo, chronic lumbago, etc. With the collaboration of Grenoble Ecole de Management, the two partners organized an unprecedented event: the Medical Game Jam. With 80 participants over the course of two days and nights, the event brought together patients with chronic diseases, students, doctors and professionals from fields such as video gaming, scientific mediation and innovation. Participants collaborated in pairs or groups of three to define several major challenges in medical research for chronic diseases. The event was supported by the GEM Chair for Public Trust in Health.

Two games stand out!

“Following a presentation of research challenges, teams were built around six research themes and a variety of perspectives such as the point of view of patients or doctors as well as game designers or artists,” explains Hélène Michel, a researcher and professor at GEM and an expert on serious games. Hélène initiated this project following a fruitful encounter with Martin Hirsch, general manager of Assistance Publique - Paris Hospitals.

During the 48 hour event, several games were created with prototypes and graphic design guidelines. All were made accessible via the online game platform. “Two games stood out: King of Trial, which helps raise awareness about consent before clinical research (understanding clearly what you’re agreeing to before taking part in medical research) and the game Utter-Us, which focuses on endometriosis. The game offers the chance for a virtual immersion in a uterus. The goal is to make visible the invisible and help overcome stereotypes and taboos around endometriosis,” explains Hélène.

Accelerating research by three years

“The games will first be deployed to reach a goal of 100,000 people, namely staff and patients at Paris hospitals. The games will then be made public with a short format usable on smartphones. At the end of the game, players will be encouraged to move from virtual to real world participation and join the collaborative research platform.”
“33,000 patients currently provide data for research into chronic diseases. Our goal with online games is to mobilize 200,000 players and thus accelerate research by three years,” underlines Hélène. “How? The online platform would provide access to a larger base of qualified and approved research participants thanks to the combination of chronic diseases because when you have one chronic disease you are more likely to have a second chronic disease.”

“As of January 2020, we aim for a large scale deployment of these games in order to popularize the science behind these research themes. We’re already planning to organize a second Medical Game Jam and include even more partners,” concludes Hélène.

King of trial

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