Gaming ourselves to better health

Healthy digital stimulation

We live in a world where we are exposed to digital stimulation on a regular basis. Gaming has previously been given a bad reputation for making the youths of today inactive as they sit glued to their screens, but what if the answer was not to remove the devices but instead to get more creative with our use of them?

Technology has become intertwined with every aspect of our lives, but that does not necessarily mean it has to make us sedentary or gloomy. With the advances in not just technology but the gaming industry, we can access emotional fitness games that improve mental health. Moreover, the emergence of exergames allow us to dance, play a virtual sport, or even chase imaginary creatures through the streets as we play. Game developers have the capability to design products that have a positive impact on our health, and this is the direction we should be taking. For consoles, the next step in development might be to include a setting where automatic short breaks will encourage the player to move in order to reactivate the console.

Investing in further development of video games that assist teens to battle depression or exergames that fights obesity are just two examples of how we can turn gaming into something positive for our well-being. The opportunities for personal health and the healthcare industry itself are endless.

Digital health investment

Gaming is not the only form of technology that has the potential to transform the healthcare system. Advancements in AI and robotics are already changing how medical care is provided to patients, and how medical practitioners are trained.
In 2017, digital health investment rose a whole 109% from $6.5 billion in 2016. Healthcare stocks offer a ray of opportunities in a market deemed to grow over the coming decades. Technological advancements will continue to drive and evolve gamification as well as AI and how these will be used in healthcare.

Prescribing technology

We all know what we can expect from a visit to the doctor today: we have an estimated ten minute slot and generally walk away with some form of medical prescription. It should come as no surprise that the global pharmaceuticals market was worth $934 billion in 2017. Now, imagine if you could leave your next appointment with a prescription to a game or health app instead to encourage you to alter your behaviour for a long-lasting change of health?

We could use games to help cure PTSD or use console balance pads to help stroke patients regain their equilibrium. These are just two of the countless ways that technology can be used to revolutionize the health industry through video games. A fantastic example is Bayer HealthCare’s investment in Didget, a gadget that monitors glucose levels in the blood. Not only does it encourage consistent testing, Didget was also developed into entertainment so that children with diabetes can play adventure games as they monitor their blood sugar levels.

Healthcare related apps are also rising in popularity. Whether they contain tools that track our nutrition, sleep and activity, or are fitness related and offer short exercise sessions, they demonstrate how powerful technology can be when used correctly.

Regardless of whether we will see it manifest in simulations or through apps, gaming is a channel that can assist in achieving healthier populations across the world. It is an industry that will prosper and materialize into part of something bigger than mere entertainment. Someday we won’t be able to imagine healthcare without this technology.

the author

He’s a cat. He likes to play video games. He often has a hard time with this since he’s a gamer cat living in a gamer human world, but he gets by.