Monday, May 11, 2009

Video Games educating on Diabetes?

It may seem strange that video games can help those with the disease but companies and designers are trying their best to be creative and make games that are educational, still fun, and possibly life changing. At a young age children are being diagnosed with diabetes as our country grows unhealthier. There are many resources to help fight diabetes and keep those diagnosed healthy and one of those resources that is up and coming is video games. Several games in creation and/or recently released are Escape from Diab, GRIP: Diabetes Self-Management for Children and Their Parents, and The Magi and the Sleeping Star.

GRIP is designed for a younger crowd around 7-11 years old and is a flash based game that is available to play now. Controls are simple using the arrow keys and the mouse to control your character. The version that I played was in German but it was still simple to understand what you needed to do. As your character makes his way through the world he has to dodge several obstacles in his way but to add to that he must balance his blood sugar with several different foods and the medication insulin at his arsenal. This game is simple and I can see a younger crowd wanting to play it and improving the communication between the child, their parents, and their doctors.

The game Magi and the Sleeping Star is a higher production game with a 3-D design and a much grander story. The game is designed for any age group including adults and looks like alot more fun than the other games, it could possibly be a game that would attract regular gamers as well as the diabetic crowd. The main character in this game is a man who is trying to track down his family who was kidnapped. He faces many monsters and foe on his way and has an awesome weaponry and magical powers at his arsenal. However, he has type one diabetes and the disease affects his magical powers and the better balanced blood sugar he has, the stronger his magical powers are. To keep his blood sugar at a healthy level the player must choose healthy food, count carbohydrates and adminster appropriate amounts of insulin. All of which an actual diabetes patient must do. This concept in the game could be greatly beneficial to a younger crowd.

The last game is Escape from Diab, and like Magi and the Sleeping Star is a more in depth game with a great interactive website. While diabetes isn't directly involved in the game it can be seen where it can relate. The main character, Deejay, finds himself in the unfamiliar world of Diab. Diab is ruled by an out of shape king that wants to spread his unhealthyness to his citizens. He outlaws exercise and feeds his population unlimited free amounts of junk food and school is practicaly non exsistant and children do nothing but sit around all day. Deejay and his new, out of shape Diabian friends journey through this game to escape from Diab to the Golden City to lead a healthy life.

These games are a great example in how video game companies are trying to use technology, which people of all ages utilize, to educate and entertain. They are creative in how they impliment things like healthy eating, balancing blood sugar, and proper insulin dosage to video games that aren't just seen as an educational DVD to kids. However too few companies are getting involved in this new type of video game genre, and the companies that are creating games aren't popular gaming companies such as EA, Sony, or Microsoft. Until companies like those get involved in educational video games I don't see these games being popular.

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